Poetry News

Edward Dorn Revisited at Warscapes

By Harriet Staff

Ed Dorn

In The Shoshoneans: The People of the Basin-Plateau, Edward Dorn documents the plight of the Shoshone people, in collaboration with photographer, Leroy Lucas, on a trip through Vietnam War-era North America. At Warscapes, Claudia Moreno Parsons reviews a newly reprinted edition of The Shoshoneans, published by University of New Mexico Press, edited by Matthew Hofer, with a forward by Simon Ortiz.

[...] In the newly reprinted edition of The Shoshoneans published by University of New Mexico Press last year, Simon J. Ortiz places the book firmly within the mid-1960s culture of Vietnam War resistance. Ortiz’s foreword sets the tone for thinking about this important book and its engagement with war in all its myriad forms in the context of North American culture and history. Taking on the codes of imperialism, subjugation, and genocide, Dorn’s text and Lucas’s photographs force us to consider the consequences of war, the “full-scale invasion and occupation by Euro-Americans that comprised the colonization of the Americas,” as Ortiz puts it. This is a book that considers the long view of North American history and takes a hard look at some of the Indigenous people of this continent without romanticizing or flinching from what is found.

Covering several states where the Shoshone people have resided or continue to reside, including Utah, Nevada, and New Mexico, Dorn and Lucas drive their car, talking to people, listening to the stories people are willing to tell them. Dorn remains somewhat apart, feeling the weight of his own history and culture without quite knowing how to reconcile himself with the Shoshone with whom he comes into contact. He is traveling with Leroy Lucas (who was for a while known as Leroy McLucas, as the original prints of the book indicate), an African American man, a point noticed by every small town sheriff, bartender, and townsperson who sees them. Remember, it was 1966 when the gains of the Civil Rights movement had only just begun to be put in place by the law and were even further behind in actual practice. The pair were noticed wherever they traveled, their difference in skin color creating a buzz around them in a country struggling – often violently – with race. [...]

Read more at Warscapes.