Monday, 30 January 2012


My obituary of the poet Ted Enslin is up today at the Guardian's website; you can link to it here. Because his passing on 21 November last year went mostly unreported, this appears to be the first large-scale obit anywhere--oddly enough I had written it a number of years ago for the Guardian's files (and went back for some small re-writes and to add the verses today). They also found a wonderful photo which shows him framed by the Maine coastline, which is so important in his work.

I made contact with Enslin through Cid Corman (who died on my birthday in 2004 and which also went relatively unreported at the time) and felt his poems would be a natural for the folded-over six pages of text format I used for the Northern Lights chapbooks. And so it was. We corresponded on the ordering of the Pavanes, and for a while it was a rich back and forth, even after the poems were printed.

Going back through some of the Enslin books that fill my favourite poets shelf, I was amazed at how quickly his voice came back to me, and how much of his work I actually have yet to really discover. He does fit, perhaps too neatly, into my perception as something between Olson and Creeley, though his voice is often more musical but less formal--more like a cross between Robert Duncan and Ed Dorn, if that makes sense. I used to think of him, up in Maine, listening to Mahler while smoking the pipe in front of the wood stove, and somehow transferring the immediacy of his thought into flowing lines on the page. I'm glad the Guardian has given him some of the space he deserves, and glad I was able to write it.


Sam said...

Michael, thanks for your thoughts on Ted's work here and for the obituary. I was pleased to discover that The Guardian were running it. Incidentally, the photo you mention is by my friend Whit Griffin, a young poet who studied for a time with Ted.

Michael Carlson said...

It is a great shot...pure Ted and pure Maine

Ed Baker said...

here is a photo taken in 2003 at the LN 100th:

-a few more on my site.

cheers, Ed