Toronto Metropolitan University

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Edward Dorn’s Metaphors of Contagion

journal contribution
posted on 2023-12-06, 17:42 authored by Dale SmithDale Smith

[para. 1]: “Edward Dorn's literary career, from the early 1960s to his death in 1999, contributed to a progression of poetic forms that, in close association with Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, and other Black Mountain poets, dramatically enacted on the page what Wayne Booth calls "rhetorical communication," an appeal to action rather than a mode of "self-expression or an attempt at formal beauty" (79). From early lyric stances on the experience of migrant labor in the Western United States to the satiric mock epic of Gunslinger (1975) to later pithy verse that performed modes of resistance to mass culture and politics, Dorn’s writing intimately responded to the cultural contexts of the Cold War and later to the pressures asserted by global capitalism. By performing specific attitudes about the public culture he described, Dorn invited judgments from his readers on the uses of poetic language to subvert expressive forms of literary value, and he challenged them to reorient the attention of their literary and social communities. Increasingly, from the mid-1960s on, he worked by way of recurring metaphors that were used to provoke strong reactions regarding the ever-changing social and political values of North American public culture. These metaphors let him negotiate cultural values in relation to his own strength and capacity to determine provisory and situated contexts of personal and cultural meaning.”




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