Ed Dorn was born into poverty in rural Illinois at the height of the Great Depression. His breakthrough came during his time at Black Mountain College, a North Carolina school founded in 1933 as a progressive, creative alternative to the traditional structure of academia. Here, he became involved with the group of stylistically disparate writers that would later become known as the Black Mountain Poets.
While Dorn never intentionaly sought fame, preferring the untethered life of an academic nomad, he attracted considerable admiration during his lifetime, including some from the novelist Stephen King. King called Dorn’s poetry “talismans of perfect writing” and quoted him in his own work. In addition to King’s approval, Dorn received an American Book Award among other accolades.