Edward Merton Dorn was born in Villa Grove Illinois & grew up in rural poverty during the Great Depression. For his first eight grades, he attended a one – room school house. He later studied at both Black Mountain College & at the University of Illinois.
Leaving Black Mountain College in 1951, he traveled to the Pacific North West. He survived doing manual labor before returning to Black Mountain with Helene Dorn, who was his first wife in late 1954. Following graduation and after two years of travel he settled down with his family in Washington, which became the setting for By the Sound, his autobiographical novel. Originally published as Rites of Passage, By the Sound, describes the grinding poverty of life.
Living through the Great Depression he knew hardship was a way of life, Dorn was very familiar with it. Unlike today when an unexpected expense occurs, he did not have the convenience of getting payday cash loans when there was an immediate need for money. His early days living at the bottom of the economic ladder in a capitalistic society, both as a young child and then later as a young man with a family, informed and influenced his sensibilities as a writer and a political poet.
Dorn’s writing was almost always socially and politically oriented. A long – time teacher of writing, his resume includes being a faculty member in Literature Department at University of Essex in England, to teaching at over half a dozen universities across the country during the 1970’s until in 1977 he accepted a professorship at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he taught for the rest of his life. Dorn most clearly made his mark in the provocative union between poetry and political engagement by bringing within the sphere of expressive language and poetic experience objects and feelings that had been before, literally unimaginable in those terms.
On December 10, 1999 in Denver, Colorado, Dorn died of pancreatic cancer.
• Ed Dorn Live: MP3 Audio files
• Al Simmons // Live Long and Still Die With A Pretty Face
• Alastair Johnston // Ed Dorn and the Z I Connection
• Amiri Baraka // Ed Dorn
• Barry Alpert // The Outrageously Invoked Tradition
• Charles Potts // On Chemo Sabe
• Charles Potts // On Ed Dorn’s Gunslinger
• Charles Potts // The Dorn Story
• Dale Smith // A Paramount Interrogation
• Dale Smith // A World of Difference
• Dave Cook // Ed Dorn at Essex: A personal recollection
• Ed Dorn Interview // Effie Mihopoulos
• Gerard Czerwien // His Mispronounced Character
• Gloria Frym // No clouds bloom the soft-dying day
• Herbie Butterfield // Ed(ward Merton) Dorn (1929-1999): A Memoir, an Introduction, an Overview, Some Poems, and a Song
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