According to Michael Baughn, Harvey Brown’s Frontier Press published twenty-five titles between 1965 and 1972. Six or seven or them, depending how you count, were by Ed Dorn. I don’t know the full story behind Rites of Passage (1965) and the re-titled, slightly modified second edition, By the Sound, but I do know that Rites of Passage was the first book published by Brown, and Dorn’s first (and final) novel. In In the Branches of the Upper-World: Selections from the journals of Harvey Brown with a checklist of the publications of Frontier Press, Ron Caplan, the book’s designer, notes “The cover—an odd green, like a slash of light downward—that’s not mine.... They tore off the ‘old’ ones and pasted the new ones on. Of course, the rest of the book was as I designed it.” I don’t have a copy of Rites of Passage to compare to By the Sound, but the latter is printed on an unusual paper, one with a waxy texture or finish. I purchased this copy at a used bookstore when I lived in Buffalo, and Thom Donovan and I selected a passage from it to use as something of a floating epigraph in our collaborative poem, Mantle, in 2005: “In the shadows of the streetlights the vast drooping and ascending boughs of the great western cedar, the black asymmetrical hemlock. The heavy misty rain lay on them like a mantle.”
Only this afternoon, when I pulled the book off the shelf, did I take a close look at this bizarre note scribbled on the last page of the book by the previous owner in ballpoint pen. Is it a Dorn dream?
Dinner party with my parents. Telephone call from Ed, moody, asking if I can come to a party (to address it) for a foreign studies program. The party is over a delicatessen (Daniel Thompson’s). I say I’ll try to make it by eleven thinking it’s nine-thirty. This I say after he says it’ll “be going until about one.” Just before I hang up I look at the clock and it reads 10:30. After I hang up I look again and it reads 9:30. I leave my parents go to party in rain. When I get there, the crowd (having seated in the second deck up auditorium seats are there. I see Mrs. and Mr. Jeremy Fleck Robinson and his wife getting into raincoats. Some inquiry is made about sending chicken back—they don’t take long in shipping. My daughter hasn’t arrived, however, (in boxes). Later I’m walking through foyer of new building—it’s of glass. I see wood plack [sic] with the name ‘Ran’ (pronounced Ron). I think the best names are behind this place. I wish that I might be able to devote a building to the school with a penthouse where I could live but I want it to be inaccessible to students. I will give students asking from the roof. Would fire prevention require a fire escape.