Anthony Zerbe is an award-winning multi-faceted actor who came to Big Rapids to present an acted rendition of a compilation of poems written by E.E. Cummings.
To fully understand Zerbe’s performance, an understanding of E.E. Cummings is necessary as well.
Cummings was a remarkable poet of the 21st century with most of his works written within the traditional bounds of poetry with several modern twists, such as lower-case letters, all capital letters and frequent use of parentheses to denote and highlight thought. Cummings used grammar along with language to capitulate the reader into his world where the purpose was “being” instead of trying to be something.
Zerbe brought to life several of Cummings’ most famous poems and parts of his plays and novels at the Williams Auditorium on Saturday night to an intimate audience in an eccentric and nontraditional poetry reading of the great master’s works.
Between poems, Zerbe gave anecdotal stories about his personal life, including his first love and his wife – two separate people.
Zerbe regaled about his father’s lack of support in his acting career and then proceeded directly into the tale of Cummings’ father and the poet’s life in Cambridge, all the while transitioning between roles of poet, father and sometimes old lady.
For those who love poetry and especially the dramatic work of Zerbe’s reading, the show was fantastic. Those who weren’t there just for an assignment truly appreciated the technicality of Zerbe’s performance and watched on with smiles from ear to ear. Val Ferrera, Ferris senior in the crimial justice program, said of the performance, “It makes you feel re-intrigued by the world. It’s hypnotizing.”
After the performance, a colloquy of an even smaller group took place where Zerbe spoke of his love for Cummings and his acting career in depth. He ended the night on the note of freedom for expressing and being.
“Start tasting, taste everything you can,” Zerbe said in reference to trying new experiences and living life to the fullest.