Anyone who begins a rigorous study of Cummings soon realizes the crucial contributions of Norman Friedman. In a spirit of celebration of his life, and in memory of his death, Michael Webster has created a webpage, which can be found here.
The links and tributes below (which are also included on Spring’s website) help give an indication of the extensive and generous life’s work of this beloved scholar.
From Spring 14 & 15 (2005 / 2006) [Special Norman Friedman Double Issue]:
“Tributes to Norman Friedman.” Spring: The Journal of the E. E. Cummings Society 14-15 (October 2006): 9-30.
Friedman, Norman. “The Other Cummings: The Private Side.” Spring: The Journal of the E. E. Cummings Society 14-15 (October 2006): 31-45.
—. “Cummings, Oedipus, and Childhood: Problems of Anxiety and Intimacy.” Spring: The Journal of the E. E. Cummings Society 14-15 (2006): 46-68.
Lewis Turco, “The Passing of Norman Friedman”
Michael Dylan Welch, “Tribute to Norman Friedman”
Tributes to Norman Friedman
Here are some tributes to Norman, in reverse order in which they were received (e-mail fashion):
I never met Norman Friedman, but his books, his deep understanding of Cummings’ spirit greatly helped me to translate the poems of “our nonhero”.
My sympathy to his wife, family and friends.
I never had the chance to meet Norman, but in reading through your emails, I have been struck by how his spirit of generosity lives on in the Cummings Society. I gave my first conference presentation at a Cummings panel in 2008, and I felt very much welcomed and encouraged by Mike, Gillian, Etienne, and everyone in a way similar to how many of you shared how Norman welcomed you and your work. The Cummings Society has been a major influence in where I am today, and I now have a much clearer understanding as to why the Cummings Society is so unique: Norman was and is a nonhero, and like EEC, a nonhero’s spirit contagiously affects the people around him.
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees,
I was shocked and dismayed to learn of Norman Friedman’s death. He has been very important to me as I have in recent years continued my work on the writings of E. E. Cummings. I recently reviewed all my past correspondence with him and realized that I did not always respond to his suggestions – and even invitations! I plan to remedy that, partly as a thank you for his invaluable service to all of us for many years.
Yes, I agree, we are all obviously uniting our voices here to remember Norman as a philanthropist and great lover of people and literature.
Personally, I’ll always remember his enthusiasm and warmth when welcoming me in New York as a PHD student on EEC. That day gave a new and truer dimension to my work as Norman had known EEC and had been there till his last day. I hope that Zelda can be reassured as now it is EEC in turn who is welcoming him over there, their fingers not writing or painting but uniting and dancing,
“the impressed fingers of sublime
Memory,of that loveliness receiving
the image (all our) proud heart(s) (will forever) cherish as fair”
(Sonnets, Unrealities, II, 137).
Zelda and Norman have been in my thoughts all week. It was a shock to be in the middle of a conference last week and hear about Norman’s passing. It took me back to my first ALA conference in the late ‘80s and all the ALA Cummings sessions after that. I felt welcomed by them both—even when I was a very young, awkward scholar of perhaps 23 years. Norman was always helpful and encouraging. I am so proud to tell everyone that I meet that I am part of this wonderful group of EEC scholars. Even if I have been absent in recent years, Norman, Zelda and all of you are part of who I am.
I too look forward to many reflective pieces in Spring. He cared deeply about this work, so it is time for me to return to EEC in his honor. I will think of him as I write!
Norman was the Chair of the Cummings Society when I started attending ALA as a graduate student in the 1980s. He and Zelda took me under their wings immediately and made me feel like my fledgling work was valued. They set the welcoming tone that characterizes this group to this day. What fine founders all of those early Cummings scholars were.
From Madrid in Euroland,
I think that we all should write something about our relationship with Norman and Zelda for the next issue of Spring. That’s the best tribute for a generous person who, in my case, helped so much with my PhD and later publications and, considering the time difference, patiently woke up in the middle of the night when in the 1990s I sent him faxes asking questions about Mr. Cummings.
Thanks a lot, Norman.
Teresa González Mínguez
Norman was a fine scholar and a gentle, kind man. It says something about your scholarship when you write not only the first critical monograph on a major poet, but one that remains, after many decades, the best single study of Cummings’s poetry. I had the honor and pleasure of meeting Norman and Zelda several times at Cummings sessions of conferences and when we each lectured at the other’s university during the Cummings centennial. Each meeting, professional or social, reinforced my feeling that they were a gracious, charming couple. Many of you know that Norman (and Zelda too, I believe) was a practicing psychologist. I had a chance to see and benefit from this side of his wisdom when he kindly advised me on some problems I was having with my adolescent daughter. The advice, like all of Norman’s insights, was offered gently–and gratefully received. That was Norman. We’ll miss him.
I have never been more grateful for a friendship or more honored by one than that with Norman and Zelda. I’m happy to have expressed that to them while Norman was still with us, and it was always with the greatest sincerity. I know that Zelda will be sustained now by the bonds shared in those final years, even as I offer my sympathy for the inevitability of her loss. I hope she finds comfort in the outpouring of shared memories and tributes that I read online this evening, as I add my voice to that chorus.
Thanks for letting me know, Mike. Very sorry to hear.
After finding out about Norman, I had a yen to read up on him at Wikipedia and was shocked to be unable to find an entry on him. Is there one? I’m not a big admirer of Wikipedia but it can be handy for surface views of various subjects, so I’d like it to have entries on all the writers I admire–including, for certain, Norman. Would any of our society’s younger admirers of Cummings be interested in making an entry on him? I wish I had time to myself, but . . .
all best, Bob Grumman
Like Todd, Norman was my first connection to the Cummings Society, and he became a sort of mentor to me, as I’m sure he was to many. I always felt honored to be part of the society and to have the great Norman Friedman comment on my work. Through his encouragement I was able to accomplish and achieve more than I ever thought I could. He was not only a brilliant scholar but an inspiring teacher, a generous colleague, and an unforgettable person.
Norman was the editor of Spring when I submitted my first work on E. E. Cummings. He was very encouraging and supportive. I only met him once during a conference panel that I participated in, but as so many others have noted, his work and its influence is indisputable.
In Memoriam Norman Friedman
gone. (#14 73 Poems CP 786)
how generous is that himself the sun
(never a moment ceasing to begin
the mystery of day for someone’s eyes)
with goldenly his fathering
and our night’s thousand million miracles (#84 95 Poems CP 756)
over us if(as what was dusk becomes
strictly immeasurable nowhere flames
to call the stars, Norman and Cummings, (#69 95 Poems CP 741)
whose absence would have made your whole life and my
(and infinite our)merely to undie (#45 73 Poems CP 817)
“i carry your books with me(i carry them in my heart”; you’re with stars now and we remember. Our thoughts and prayers are with Zelda and family,
Gillian Huang-Tiller and Ken Tiller
University of Virginia-Wise
Norman’s influence extends across boundaries here into South Africa, where I’ve been carrying him, carrying him in my heart. To read his work has been one of those turning-point experiences. To have met him in Boston was the most gentle mind-blow. He and Zelda like that, beautifully smallish within a very tangible aura of living well, in touch with each other and life. You could feel his big, gentle, clear heart from a distance. I will never forget him, and it actually hurts, stings, to think that he won’t be lightly treading this Earth with us any further. Not to mention missing his further writing on our non-hero.
Words fail, and so they should.
Dick Bailey, who hired me at the University of Michigan in 1985 and also died just recently, was Norman’s student.
Over my 27 years here of teaching at Michigan, before I retired last year, this lead to many spirited conversations between us about Norman, E.E, etc.
So sorry to hear of Norman’s passing.
I admire everything Norman wrote about E.E.
The body of work is beautiful.
On this point, what more can you say?
Norman once told me he wanted “forgetting me, remember me” to be thought of at his passing. So, I imagine, would most of us.
David V. Forrest
Thanks for your input on Norman. We were colleagues for years. As you say
He lives on.
Thanks, Michael. N. lived the EEC spirit.