Editor: Kyle Waugh
Part I: 54 pages, softcover, saddle-stitch binding
Part II: 58 pages, softcover, saddle-stitch binding (with insert)
A cross between The Seventh Seal and Blazing Saddles, Abilene! Abilene! is the unfinished screenplay poet Ed Dorn drafted for a collaboration with filmmaker Stan Brakhage in the late 1960s. Though Brakhage once claimed their film “was to be America’s answer to The Blood of a Poet,” the project was twice abandoned for lack of funding—first in 1969, leaving the script half-finished, then again in 1976, when San Francisco-based Zephyrus Image Press canceled plans to publish its first (and only) section. Four decades later, Abilene! Abilene!’s incompleteness and colorful bibliographic history make it a remarkably reflective text: altogether its many versions afford a privileged glimpse into Dorn’s editorial process, and its multistage, prismatic failure offers a narrative index of the waning autonomy of countercultural production and experimentation over the course of the latter half of the 1970s. A peculiar result of cross-media affinities among the post-war American “avant-garde,” Abilene! Abilene! is an idiosyncratic artifact of “Sicksties” (Dorn’s spelling) zeitgeist, and makes an instructive and entertaining component to Dorn’s mock-epic Gunslinger.
EDWARD DORN (1929-1999) was born in rural Illinois on the verge of the Great Depression. He studied under Charles Olson at Black Mountain in the 1950s. In 1961, then LeRoi Jones published Dorn’s first book, The Newly Fallen. Over the next four decades, Dorn taught at universities across the US, and in England and France. He died in Denver, CO, having published over twenty books of poetry and short prose, one novel, and an anthropological account of the Shoshone Indians.
- Edward Dorn Papers, Thomas J. Dodd, Research Center, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
- Zephyrus Image Archives, Special Collections at the University of Delaware Libraries, Newark, DE
- James Stanley Brakhage Papers, at the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Boulder, CO
- Black Sparrow Press Records, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico, NM
- Private Archives (Jennifer Dunbar Dorn, Granary Books, Tom Raworth, Rob Rusk, John Friedman)
- Donald C. & Elizabeth M. Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, OK