Enslin, Theodore (Vernon)

views updated

ENSLIN, Theodore (Vernon)

Nationality: American. Born: Chester, Pennsylvania, 25 March 1925. Education: Attended public and private schools; studied composition with Nadia Boulanger, 1943–44. Family: Married 1) Mildred Marie Stout in 1945 (divorced 1961), one daughter and one son; 2) Alison Jane Jose in 1969, one son. Career: Columnist ("Six Miles Square"), The Cape Codder, Orleans, Massachusetts, 1949–56. Awards: Nieman award, for journalism, 1955; National Endowment for the Arts grant, 1976. Address: R.F.D. Box 289, Kansas Road, Milbridge, Maine 04658, U.S.A.



The Work Proposed. Ashland, Massachusetts, Origin Press, 1958.

New Sharon's Prospect. Kyoto, Japan, Origin Press, 1962.

The Place Where I Am Standing. New Rochelle, New York, Elizabeth Press, 1964.

This Do (and The Talents). Mexico City, El Corno Emplumado, 1966.

New Sharon's Prospect and Journals. San Francisco, Coyote's Journal, 1966.

To Come to Have Become. New Rochelle, New York, Elizabeth Press, 1966.

The Four Temperaments. Privately printed, 1966.

The Dependencies. New York, Caterpillar, 1966.

Characters in Certain Places. Portland, Oregon, Prensa da Lagar-Wine Press, 1967.

The Diabelli Variations and Other Poems. Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, Matter, 1967.

2/30–6/31: Poems 1967. Cabot, Vermont, Stoveside Press, 1967.

Agreement and Back: Sequences. New Rochelle, New York, Elizabeth Press, 1969.

The Poems. New Rochelle, New York, Elizabeth Press, 1970.

Forms. New Rochelle, New York, Elizabeth Press, 5 vols., 1970–74.

Views 1–7. Berkeley, California, Maya, 1970.

The Country of Our Consciousness. Berkeley, California, Sand Dollar, 1971.

Etudes. New Rochelle, New York, Elizabeth Press, 1972.

Views. New Rochelle, New York, Elizabeth Press, 1973.

Sitio. Hanover, New Hampshire, Granite, 1973.

In the Keepers House. Dennis, Massachusetts, Salt Works Press, 1973.

With Light Reflected. Fremont, Michigan, Sumac Press, 1973.

The Swamp Fox. Dennis, Massachusetts, Salt Works Press, 1973.

The Mornings. Berkeley, California, Shaman/Drum, 1974.

Fever Poems. Brunswick, Maine, Blackberry, 1974.

The Last Days of October. Dennis, Massachusetts, Salt Works Press, 1974.

The Median Flow: Poems 1943–73. Los Angeles, Black Sparrow Press, 1974.

Synthesis 1–24. Plainfield, Vermont, North Atlantic, 1975.

Ländler. New Rochelle, New York, Elizabeth Press, 1975.

Some Pastorals. Dennis, Massachusetts, Salt Works Press, 1975.

Papers. New Rochelle, New York, Elizabeth Press, 1976.

Carmina. Dennis, Massachusetts, Salt Works Press, 1976.

The Further Regions. Milwaukee, Pentagram Press, 1977.

Ascensions. Santa Barbara, California, Black Sparrow Press, 1977.

Circles. Lewiston, Maine, Great Raven Press, 1977.

Concentrations. Dennis, Massachusetts, Salt Works Press, 1977.

Ranger CXXII and CXXVIII. Rhinebeck, New York, Station Hill Press, 1977.

Tailings. Milwaukee, Pentagram Press, 1978.

16 Blossoms in February. Brunswick, Maine, Blackberry, 1979.

Ranger, Ranger 2. Richmond, California, North Atlantic, 2 vols., 1979–80.

May Fault. Lewiston, Maine, Great Raven Press, 1979.

Opus 31, No. 3. Milwaukee, Membrane Press, 1979.

A Root in March. Orono, University of Maine Press, 1979.

The Flare of Beginning Is in November. New York, Jordan Davies, 1980.

The Fifth Direction. Milwaukee, Pentagram Press, 1980.

Star Anise. Milwaukee, Pentagram Press, 1980.

Two Geese. Milwaukee, Pentagram Press, 1980.

In Duo Concertante. Milwaukee, Pentagram Press, 1981.

Markings. Milwaukee, Membrane Press, 1981.

Opus O. Milwaukee, Membrane Press, 1981.

Processionals. Dennis, Massachusetts, Salt Works Press, 1981.

Knee Deep in the Atlantic, with others. Milwaukee, Pentagram Press, 1981.

September's Bonfire. Elmwood, Connecticut, Potes and Poets Press, 1981.

Axes 52. Willimantic, Connecticut, Ziesing Brothers, 1981.

To Come Home (To). Lewiston, Maine, Great Raven Press, 1982.

Meditations on Varied Grounds. Hartford, Connecticut, Potes and Poets Press, 1982.

Passacaglia. Bayonne, New Jersey, Beehive Press, 1982.

"F.P." Willimantic, Connecticut, Ziesing Brothers, 1982.

A Man in Stir. Milwaukee, Pentagram Press, 1983.

Grey Days. N.p., Last Straw Press, 1984.

Songs Without Notes. Grenada, Mississippi, Salt-Works Press, 1984.

Music for Several Occasions. Milwaukee, Membrane Press, 1985.

The Weather Within. Madison, Wisconsin, Landlocked Press, 1985.

Meeting at Jal, with Keith Wilson. N.p., Southwestern American Literature Association, 1985.

For Mr. Walters, Master Mechanic. Warrenville, Connecticut, Shirt Pocket Press, 1985.

I Am You Are. Brattleboro, Vermont, Green River, 1985.

The Path Between. South Harpswell, Maine, Blackberry, 1986.

The Waking of the Eye. Weymouth, Stingy Artist/Last Straw Press, 1986.

Case Book. Elmwood, Connecticut, Potes and Poets Press, 1987.

From near the Great Pine. Peoria, Illinois, Spoon River Press, 1988.

Love & Science. Kenosha, Wisconsin, Light and Dust Books, 1990.

Gamma Ut. Charleston, Illinois, Tel Let, 1992.

A Sonare. Green River, Vermont, Longhouse, 1994.

Communitas. Hobbs, New Mexico, Writers on the Plains, 1996.

Skeins. Brattleboro, Vermont, Longhouse-Origin, 1998.

Re-Sounding: Selected Later Poems. Jersey City, New Jersey, Talisman House, 1999.

Sequentiae. London, Stop Press, 1999.

Then and Now: Selected Poems, 1943–1993. Hanover, New Hampshire, University Press of New England, 1999.


Barometric Pressure 29.83 and Steady (produced New York, 1965).

Short Stories

2 + 12. Dennis, Massachusetts, Salt Works Press, 1979.


Mahler. Los Angeles, Black Sparrow Press, 1975.

The July Book. Berkeley, California, Sand Dollar, 1976.

Editor, The Selected Poems of Howard McCord 1961–1971. Trumansburg, New York, Crossing Press, 1975.

Translator, Fragments/Epigrammata, by Pindar and Calimachus. Dennis, Massachusetts, Salt Works Press, 1982.


Manuscript Collection: Fales Collection, New York University Libraries.

Critical Studies: "The Frozen State" by the author, in Elizabeth (New Rochelle, New York), 1965; Theodore Enslin issue of Truck 20 (St. Paul), 1978; Theodore Enslin issue of Talisman (Hoboken, New Jersey), 12, 1994; "Toward a Common Ground: Versions of Place in the Poetry of Charles Olson, Edward Dorn, and Theodore Enslin" by Burton Hatlen, in Sagetrieb (Orono, Maine), 15(3), winter 1996.

Theodore Enslin comments:

I suppose I would classify as a nonacademic and have been allied with those who broke with the New Criticism in the early 1950s.

Perhaps, as Cid Corman once said, I write more "you" poems than anyone else now alive. My themes are what I find around me, and since I live in the country, this has sometimes led to thinking that I am in some way a nature poet. I heartily disavow this. My poems are intensely introspective, from which I attempt to produce the impersonality/personality that I feel necessary to any valid work of art. My formal structure is based on sound, and I feel that my musical training has shaped this more than anything else. The line breaks/stresses are indicated as a type of notation, something that concerns me since I believe we have no adequate notation for poetry and I conceive of any poem as requiring a performance. It should be read aloud. In ways, some important to me and some to the work itself, I would say that Rilke, W.C. Williams, Thoreau, and latterly Louis Zukofsky were influences. The rest must be said in the poems themselves.

(1995) I am increasingly dismayed at the neglect of poetry—the text itself—in favor of criticism, often ill informed. May I make a plea? Return to the work itself. It may bring pleasant surprises.

*  *  *

Theodore Enslin's work became known in the pages of Origin, the seminal magazine edited by Cid Corman, who also published Enslin's first book. It is not surprising, then, to find a continuity between the work of the two men. Both write spare, quiet post-Williams poems grounded in a shared respect for the otherness and autonomy of natural things and a distrust of the romantic ego. A basic premise is that the sufficiently careful naming of phenomena can by itself energize attention. But Enslin is more diffuse than Corman. Many of his poems read quickly seem merely flat, no more than prose jottings. Reread, however, with due attention to the lineation and sound, the best of them take on a pondered weight and become meditations rather than mere statements. His method of condensing daily experience and observation into poems can be seen in the charming New Sharon's Prospect, which gives both the prose anecdotes and sketches and the poems that crystallize out of them.

Enslin's work is filled with the places, people, and things of rural New England, where he lives. If at times it reminds you of a Frost landscape, it is free of Frost's often intrusive personality. Others of his poems are more abstract notations of emotion or of the problematic relations of observer and external reality. The following is from The Place Where I Am Standing:

   I turned once to the window
   and once
   to you
     not here.
   I would have shown you
   a world I see there,
   but it would not have been your world.
   It is better this way
   In absence, you come to the window,
   look out on just those things
   I have shown you.

The five volumes of Forms, a long open-structure poem, are the product of "sixteen years of experiment and discovery" that Enslin describes as "my apperception of art, of history, of experience, whatever any of it may have been worth, and no matter how limited." First acquaintance suggests that this is less rewarding than the short poems, but the interest of the latter is grounds enough for thinking that the long work will deserve frequentation.

—Seamus Cooney