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Theodore Vernon Enslin was born March 25, 1925, Chester, Pennsylvania, and died November 21, 2011, in Milbridge, Maine - a New England man all his life. His father was a biblical scholar and his mother a Latin scholar. Enslin studied musical composition at Cambridge, Massachusetts. His teacher, Nadia Boulanger, was the first person to recognize his ability as a writer and encouraged him to pursue his interest in poetry. He once said the greatest compliment he could receive was to be called "a composer who used words". He told Corman that Olson would never have needed to write Projective Verse if he had studied Haydn. "Analyse a Haydn symphony," he said. "It is all right there. The whole idea that the form is dictated by content, the whole thing. This changes with every example."

His first book, "The Work Proposed", was published by Origin Press in 1958; his final book, "To An Unknown Shore" will be published by Skysill Press in 2013; a writing career of over half a century. Enslin moved to Maine in 1960 and lived in Washington County for the rest of his life, supporting his poetry by doing odd jobs and making and selling handmade walking sticks.

Speaking of the long poems "Ranger" and "Forms", Pierre Joris says "They are important texts in the mid-20th-century, post-Poundian redefinition of the American 'long poem.'" Enslin's later books, such as "In Tandem" and "Sequentiae" are, as Tony Frazer points out in his review, unlike anything else being written in English today.

Enslin clearly had a gift for friendship, and at his death, was missed by a wide range of poets and writers who held him in great affection. However, much of his work is now out of print, and a revival is clearly required; hence this modest feature, which may play a small part in arousing interest in the work of this major poet.


Alan Baker