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This article is taken from PN Review 178, Volume 34 Number 2, November - December 2007.

Ed Dorn's Theatre of Impatience John Muckle

I first heard of the poetry of Ed Dorn in a letter from a friend who was being taught by him at Essex University. This was 1974. I was attending the University of Warwick, and not attending much. I'd been put off by someone I later learned was the Romanticism lecturer, who, upon hearing of my enthusiasm for Allen Ginsberg in the university bar, raised his head from his pint and said: 'They're not letting your sort in, are they?' I went on strike. I slept all day and stayed up all night in lonely misery. I occupied the new arts centre, with other students politicised by the death of Kevin Gately at the hands of the police on a demonstration in Red Lion Square. I took a coach down to Colchester to sleep on my friend Robert's study-room floor in the black towers and hear 'this guy Ed Dorn' read his poetry.

He read from Gunslinger, his book-length satirical poem, then a work-in-progress, and 'Recollections of Gran Apacheria', poems about the last days of Cochise and Geronimo and the brutal attrition of their 'endless fights/with the whites'. Gunslinger seemed good fun, if a little hard to follow, an endless series of in-jokes that were sometimes difficult to get. I had the impression Dorn was an international cocaine smuggler, by means of which he financed a number of third world revolutions, and an enlightened literature department fell about knowingly at his ...


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