Western History & Genealogy Blog
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Poetry in Western History and Genealogy? We have many books of poetry associated with the American West. Come in and read original editions by the Western poets Bret Harte and Joaquin Miller. Miller is considered an “ancestral poet” by the Beats, cowboy poets, and many California poets. Read the whimsical children’s poems of Eugene Field, for whom Denver’s Eugene Field Branch is named. See also the works of Thomas Hornsby Ferril, whose words are inscribed in our state capitol. Come read about the cranky poet Kenneth Rexroth, who both mentored the Beats and panned them, and about his poems for the anarchist chicken farmers of Petaluma, California. See Gloria Anzaldua’s groundbreaking mix of poetry and essay, Borderlands/La Frontera. Read the poems of Captain Jack Crawford, “The Poet Scout,” who replaced Buffalo Bill Cody as chief of scouts for the 5th Cavalry and was, according to Cody, the only man who could be trusted to deliver an unopened bottle of whisky on the frontier. Come and see a 1971 edition of Allen Ginsburg’s Howl or come and watch the movie Fried Shoes, Cooked Diamonds, which shows a Beat reunion at Naropa in the 1970’s. Read Chicano poetry, cowboy poetry, Colorado poetry, Beat poetry, and American Indian poetry. Read Poet Be Like God: Jack Spicer and the San Francisco Renaissance, a book about Beat contemporary Jack Spicer (though not Beat member), whose humorous poetry tested the parameters of language, and whose single minded dedication to poetry drove him sometimes to hysteria. Also see a new book by Lisa Jarnot about Spicer’s partner in crime, Robert Duncan. Ask to see Jack Kerouac’s collection of letters, housed in our department. Read Bill Mohr’s excellent history of late 20th Century Los Angeles poetry Hold-Outs: The Los Angeles Poetry Renaissance, 1948-1992 (Yes, there are poets from L.A. besides Bukowski ). We also have some books of poetry with no particular association with the West, such as an 1891 edition of Henry Longfellow’s The Song of Hiawatha. Whether you’re excited because we have first and rare editions of many books of poems, or just plain old like poetry, Western History and Genealogy is a good place to geek out over rhyme and verse.