Edward Dorn’s writing has been compared by critics to that of Walt Whitman for its joy in American themes, to that of Ernest Hemingway for its idiomatic speech, to that of Ezra Pound for its humor and erudition, and to that of Thomas Wolfe for its panoramic view. More accurate, however, are the criticisms claiming that his work defies paraphrasing and that his philosophy is likely to be different from that of his reader, who will emerge with a less inhibited and consequently more benevolent and tolerant view of the world. Dorn was called a “master of contemporary language,” and Gunslinger has been called a “masterpiece of contemporary poetry.”
Dorn taught at Idaho State University, at the University of Kansas, at Northeastern Illinois State University, at Kent State University, at the University of Essex (Colchester), at the University of California, Riverside and San Diego, and at Muir College. At the time of his death, he was an associate professor of English at the University of Colorado in Boulder and a director of the writing program. He was twice a Fulbright Lecturer in American literature at Essex; he received National Endowment for the Arts grants in 1966 and 1968, a fellowship from the University of New Mexico in 1969, and the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation in 1980. He was poet-in-residence at the University of Alaska and at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Dorn read at the Folger Library; the Cambridge Poetry Festival; the University of Durham, England; King’s College (the University of London); and Westfield College. He gave the Olson lectures at the State University of New York in 1981.