In a recent post on her BrainPickings blog, writer Maria Popova discusses the aesthetic rebelliousness of E. E. Cummings and the importance of protecting artists’ right to “challenge the status quo.”

Using letters and photos from the Academy of American Poets archive, Popova goes into the history behind the Academy granting Cummings the prestigious Academy of American Poets Fellowship in 1950 and some of the subsequent backlash that occurred. Popova recounts the hate mail the Academy received, as well as the spirited defenses a literary agent and poetry lover named Alex Jackinson and Academy founder Marie Bullock herself wrote of Cummings’s work, now celebrated and beloved as essential in the American literary canon—despite what his detractors said at the time.

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