Theodore Enslin (1925-2011)

Though I always enjoyed Enslin’s lyrical work, those volumes upon volumes of small poems or sequences of small poems, with very often musical titles — Etudes, etc. — the moments of deepest  involvement with that magisterial oeuvre came in the early seventies in England when I read through the three long poems that I believe are & will remain the core of the work: the four volumes + Coda of FORMS (those lovely black & orange hardcover books from The Elizabeth Press in that nearly old-fashioned or just British feeling 9/10 point Times Roman), the 490-page SYNTHESIS and the 2 volumes of RANGER (both from Richard Grossinger’s North Atlantic Books). Not much seems to be in print right now, except for the late quasi-autobiographical novella, I, BENJAMIN. I do hope that the NPF will reissue the excellently edited (by Mark Nowak) selected short poems THEN, AND NOW, but that the other long poems will also find their way back into print. They are important  texts in the mid-20th-century, post-Poundian redefinition of the American “long poem.”

Here are 2 pages (ending on a comma, in mid-air, incomplete, & therefore asking the reader to seek out the books) from section XXI of volume 1 of FORMS, dealing with edible, healing & other plants located in the environment around him, thus early very conscious involvements with the matters of ecology, the earth-household, & healing needs (it was Enslin who first made me aware of homeopathy). Take care, Ted, & thanks for the gifts of mind & music & matter.

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8 Responses

  1. Blessings for this….Ted sustained many regarding mind, music, matter and leaves us with more than we had before he did so.
    His passing is a comma and your tribute is inspiring at a time such is needed.
    Thank you for this….

  2. Martha King says:

    Lovely choice as Ted’s obit. Thank you.

  3. Herschel Silverman says:




  4. Rochelle Owens says:

    The Eye Of The Botanist
    a seed of the flower
    Poetry’s god-given Enslin

  5. George Economou says:

    Adieu Ted–
    Our friendship began,
    you old ranger, you,
    one night in the 1960s
    when we walked and talked
    from 116th St. and B’way
    down to Sheridan Square
    had coffee and then walked
    and talked all the way back.
    All the way back….

  6. Paul Pines says:


    Last words
    On my message machine
    The day before
    He died:

    This is Ted Enslin
    Just wanted to thank you
    For the poems
    The Belize section
    is lovely

    If you want to call me
    The number is…

  7. Ed Baker says:

    Ted’s oldest friends …
    Cid and Shizumi

    here they are in 2003:

    Shizumi just died… 4 days after Ted passed;

  8. It was back in 1959 to 1963 when Ted and I were great friends in Temple, Maine. I was writing poems under the pseudonym of John Stevens Wade and we were just beginning to publish in the little journals. How I miss the long walks we took to his place on the mountain and the long talks! So many memories from those good old days. Miss you, old friend. CJ

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