Gunslinger (poem)

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Gunslinger is the title of a long poem in six parts by Ed Dorn.


Book I was first published in 1968, Book II in 1969, The Cycle ('Book 2 1/2')[1] in 1971, The Winterbook (Book III) in 1972, Bean News (Gunslinger's 'secret book')[2] in 1972, and 'Book IIII' as part of the complete Slinger[3] (minus Bean News) in 1975. Gunslinger[4] is Dorn's best-known work, and widely considered his most important.


The gunslinger is a long form political poem about a demigod cowboy, a saloon madam, and a talking horse named Claude Levi-Strauss, who travel the Southwest in search of Howard Hughes.[5]

The conversation stream of the poem is constantly interrupted.[6] Dorn mixes the jargon of drug addicts, Westerners, and others to reflect the jumble of American speech. He seems to intentionally frustrate the reader; syntax is ambiguous, punctuation is sparse, and puns, homonyms, and nonsense words become an integral part of conversation.[7]


  1. ^ Edward Dorn, Biographical note, Tens #1, ed. Bill Little (Los Angeles, July 1972), p. 1.
  2. ^ ‘An Interview with Edward Dorn’ by John Wright (1990), Chicago Review, 49.3/4 & 50.1, Edward Dorn: American Heretic, ed. by Eirik Steinhoff (Summer 2004), pp. 167-215.
  3. ^ Edward Dorn, Slinger, (Wingbow Press, Berkeley CA, 1975).
  4. ^ Edward Dorn, Gunslinger, (Duke University Press, Durham NC, 1989).
  5. ^ Google books, referencing Gunslinger
  6. ^ Charles Potss from Cento magazine on Gunslinger
  7. ^ Edward Dorn
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