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DORN, EDWARD (1929-1999) Edward Dorn is identified with the black mountain school of poetry and shares this group's use of free verse, which avoids regular metrics and rhyme (see prosody and free verse), and of precise and blunt language, filtered through his personal and sometimes idiosyncratic poetics and his impassioned politics. As a student at Black Mountain College, Dorn worked closely with Charles olson, who stimulated his interest in place and geography as themes and in non-Western cultures as alternative and more authentic modes of living. Coming of age as a poet in the 1960s, Dorn's poetic voice was that of a self-exile standing skeptically outside mainstream culture, intensely distrustful of wealth and authority and its abuses and acutely aware of their effects on national and personal life. Dorn wrote disparagingly of the commercialism of American culture and of hypocritical governmental exploitation of foreign cultures, minorities, and the environment while also writing poignantly observant poems on personal and family relationships in a career that produced more than 25 books of poetry, as well as fiction, essays, and translations. His poems of place provide what Tom clark has characterized as unique "apprehensions variously geological, geographical, cultural, social, historical, continuously interlaced" of locales in Idaho, England, the American Southwest, and other places (46). Dorn's gunslinger (1967-75), an episodic and often humorous tale of a mock heroic quest through the West in search of Howard Hughes, is a major American narrative poem that reflects the tumultuous time of its writing (see narrative poetry). Formally it is significant in its movement from earlier poetry that presents itself as the creation of one consciousness to the more multivocal poetics of the late 20th century, which self-consciously draws on and cites many sources.
Dorn was born in Villa Grove, Illinois, and grew up in rural poverty there during the Great Depression. His father, a railroad brakeman, deserted the family when Dorn was an infant, and Dorn's poetry often
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