Exquisite Corpse - Issue 4
HomeSearchSubmitCorpse CafeArchivesCorpse MallOur Gang
issue 4 home | ec chair | broken news | critical urgencies | burning bush
ficciones | secret agents | stage & screen | letters | gallery
Death of a Gunslinger: An Obituary on Ed Dorn for America
by William Levy

A square-jawed shootout at sunrise, that's the way I picture it. Did thorny Dorn set at dawn? Probably. Ed was always a lucky man, I thought. He was lucky to be at Black Mountain College with Olson and, Fuller and Franz Kline and Creeley. Lucky to secure soft-edged teaching jobs in windy picturesque places like the mountain valley of Pocatello, Idaho; Colchester, in England near the North Sea Essex coast; and, in Boulder, Colorado where he could act out being a high plains cowboy and serve as a keener opposing magnetic pole to proud Naropaistas matzo ball Buddhists. An English friend of mine once described Ed as the leading figure in the how-to carve-a-coke-spoon-from-a-giant-redwood-tree school of poetry. Moreover, in conversation with me, Ed totally dismissed Ezra Pound as merely "a night school teacher." Yet my Albion amigo and I each felt he was one of the good guys. Ed was lucky that way too: people liked him. Ed was a lucky man. He was lucky to marry Jenny Dunbar arguably one of her generation's most beautiful women in a highly competitive field during the sixties in London. (Two others being an identical twin sister, and Marianne Faithfull, her sister-in-law.) Ed was lucky to find a fine printer in the maverick Brit Barry Hall of Goliard Press, a fine editor in erudite and diligent Donald Allen, a fine partisan in poet Tom Clark who can play shortstop on any team. Ed was lucky to be naturally outspoken, he wrote from the hip believing excess an index of aesthetic success. Perusing a correspondence we had in 1981-83, I rediscovered he was generous in praise, willing to take personal responsibility for errors, and as a gift found this passage: "The Dutch were here! It was a good time. Everybody got to meet 'the Rimp.' Julian Deelder is a great flashback. I liked Bert a lot. I liked the poetry of Bernlef the most. Can't stand Simon Asshole who complains all the time and is an AG Clone. Someone should tie a brick to his neck and throw him in the Amstel. OK forget that." OK; I've already forgotten it. But I'll never forget that Ed and I both shared an admiration for his fellow Chicago writer Robert Beck, the original cool daddy better known as Iceberg Slim. Ed was even lucky in his public detractors. The witty piece about his behavior at a party that appeared in Exquisite Corpse--from my reading--was rather sweet and affectionate, even if somewhat perfidious. It reproached Ed for nothing more crucial than preferring to pursue a healthy taste for sauce and skirts to prolix conversations with sentimental young men. Luckier still, Ed was to find so many supporters in all the folks that came to his defense. Ed was lucky in rolling rolling rolling rolling Rolling Stock a magazine he assured me that didn't "want to get too much crossfire going between the Jews. After all, it's a goyim readership, by and large. If that's still possible." Lanky Ed Dorn, the Lucky Luke of American Poetics. Adios.

20 January 2000 Amsterdam

Email: levyandco@hotmail.com

issue 4 home | ec chair | broken news | critical urgencies | burning bush
ficciones | secret agents | stage & screen | letters | gallery

corpse home | search | submit | corpse cafe | archives | corpse mall | our gang
Exquisite Corpse Mailing List Subscribe Unsubscribe

©1999-2002 Exquisite Corpse - If you experience difficulties with this site, please contact the webmistress.