Featuring poems written over five decades, the recently published “Collected Poems of Paul F. Cummins” provides a sampling of original works by Crossroads’ co-founder.
The book features a variety of poems written by Paul between 1966 and 2017, including sonnets, prose poems, odes and other metered and stanzaic pieces.
“I came to poetry through an unusual route: studying other people,” says Paul, whose doctoral dissertation examined the poetry of two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Richard Wilbur. “As I studied, I found myself wanting to try to write like this person or that person. So, I did a lot of copying of others’ writing and trying to emulate their styles. The trick is trying to find your voice. I never quite understood what that meant—I’m still working on it.”
Paul’s new volume was published by Griffith Moon, a Santa Monica-based publishing house run by Crossroads parent of alumni Kimberly Brooks. The latest release follows “Voice & Verse: Joys and How-To’s of Teaching, Reading and Writing Poetry,” which was published last year.
“I write every day,” Paul says. “I don’t get into a good place every day, and I throw away 90% of what I write, but I do write every day. You never know when something might start clicking. But you can’t wait for the clicking to happen. You have to write, write, write and eventually get to that wonderful place.”
Paul’s impact on students in poetry and literature is felt every day at Crossroads, where the Paul Cummins Library on the 21st Street Campus features the Kirschner Family Room for the Paul Cummins Poetry Collection. The reading room features Paul’s personal poetry book collection as well as other valuable volumes, which he donated to the School.
“Poetry is one of the pristine forms of human expression,” he says. “It’s a place to keep people sensitive to the nuance of language and to the potential beauty of language.”