Saturday, 17 November 2012
At long last Carcanet’s collected Edward Dorn is out with a terrific portrait by Philip Behymer on the cover. It’s substantial – nearly 1000 pages – and it contains, aside from the texts of all of Dorns’s books a considerable number of uncollected pieces. There’s an introduction by Jennifer Dunbar Dorn (who edited the volume with Justin Katko, Reitha Pattison and Kyle Waugh) and generous afterwords by Amiri Baraka and JH Prynne. Dorn’s exactitudes are well in evidence here though he wasn’t always on top of things. Back in the late eighties he published a Martial translation of mine in Rolling Stock attributing it to Catullus. This all came about because I visited him in Boulder in 1987. He and Jenny were more than hospitable and would have put me up if I hadn’t already booked myself into a nearby motel. He drove me up to the foothills of the Rockies and over a couple of evenings there was much talk of poems and poetics. The next year he got me to write a piece on the Australian Bicentennial celebrations for the magazine. As I did so I found myself absorbing his style though this was as much to fit into the journalistic style of the mag. Later, travelling and working in Europe he dropped me a line noting that: ‘In my advanced 20th C PO course at the Paul Valery université I reproduced your Montsegur poem . . . which I admired very much for its cool efficiency. I think some of them saw it - they were mostly girls named Michelle’.