Cummings, E(dward) E(stlin) (1894-1962), American poet, was one of the most radically experimental and inventive writers of the 20th century. He was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. During World War I (1914-1918) he spent three months in a French military detention camp on a false charge, an experience on which he based the autobiographical prose work The Enormous Room (1922).
Cummings's poetic style is characterized by the use of only lowercase letters; distortions of syntax; unusual punctuation; new words; and a liberal use of jazz rhythms, elements of popular culture, and slang. His works include Tulips and Chimneys (1923); him (1927), a play in verse and prose; CIOPW (1931), a collection of drawings and paintings; i: six nonlectures (1953); and 95 Poems (1958).