e.e.cummings vs. CAPS LOCK
October has two amazing days: e.e. cummings’ birthday and National Caps Lock Day. In honor of both days, we imagined a debate between e.e. cummings and the caps lock key.
CAPS LOCK: WHY DO YOU HATE ME SO MUCH?
e.e. cummings: i do not hate you; lowercase is my signature style. everyone has a signature style. emily dickinson had her em dash. i just chose not to use capital letters.
CAPS LOCK: BUT IT HURTS MY FEELINGS. I AM BARELY USED WHEN ENGLISH STUDENTS WRITE ABOUT YOU.
e.e. cummings: i was not the one who assigned them my work. besides, you can view it as a vacation. you will finally get a break from students pressing your button.
CAPS LOCK: BUT HOW DO YOU EXPRESS ANGER?
e.e. cummings: i really don’t get angry. but, if i did, i would convey it through the words themselves.
CAPS LOCK: BUT WHAT IF YOU WANT TO EMPHASIZE SOMETHING?
e.e. cummings: again, I let my syntax and diction choices relay what i am emphasizing. i do not rely on cheap tricks like capitalization.
CAPS LOCK: BUT YOU ARE BEING GRAMMATICALLY INCORRECT! THE ENGLISH TEACHERS AND EDITORS WILL COME AFTER YOU. AND THEY ARE SCARY. THEY HAVE RED PENS.
e.e. cummings: i am not afraid. they know i am taking something called “poetic license.” after all, the english teachers assign my poetry, and my editor accepted my lack of capitalization. i am red pen-proof.
CAPS LOCK: YOU ARE BEING CLOSE-MINDED. GIVE IT A TRY. WHY DON’T WE CHANGE ONE OF YOUR LINES TO MY STYLE. FOR EXAMPLE, “I CARRY YOUR HEART (I CARRY IT IN MY HEART).”
e.e.cummings: if you are going to destroy my work, please change “carry” to “break,” because you are breaking my heart right now.
CAPS LOCK: HOW ABOUT JUST YOUR NAME: E.E. CUMMINGS.
e.e.cummings: that is even worse! you are attacking my very identity. the capitalization makes me look arrogant. the lowercase is much more humble.
CAPS LOCK: LET’S TRY ANOTHER LINE. “HUMANITY I LOVE YOU.”
e.e. cummings: I HATE YOU.
CAPS LOCK: SO YOU DO GET ANGRY! AND YOU DO SEE THE BENEFITS OF CAPS LOCK! I WIN.
Sarah Fox is an editor, writer, writing consultant, and pop culture enthusiast. Besides regularly contributing to Quirk Books’ blog, she has published an edition of William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure. She lives in Washington D.C. with her husband and Pembroke Welsh Corgi. You can find her online at www.thebookishfox.com.