Early Bisbee had its outpouring of poetry, too

Modern Bisbee is known for its poets. In the last quarter of the 20th century, the Bisbee Poetry Festival brought to town some of the finest poets in the country. Today, one is more likely to hear the “cowboy” poetry from neighboring Sierra Vista’s annual festival.

But more than a century ago, poetry was part of the culture as well, and many locally written poems were to be found in the pages of the Bisbee Daily Review, covering a broad range of themes.

Early-day Bisbee poetryMany were created by local literary talent, such as Ned White or Frank Aley, better known as Mescal. Some seemed to come from one-time sources among the citizenry.

Some seemed to draw from familiar literature. One apologized for a rhyme scheme from Rudyard Kipling’s “Danny Deever.” Another, to me, seemed to draw from the structure of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Bells.” And some was purely original.

Some was serious, some seemed to parody (an early-day “Saturday Night Live?”) life of the times. Some was simply a historical chronicle.

Whatever it might be considered today, it certainly provided entertainment in its day, a major value of poetry.

Here you can download the short e-book of early-day Bisbee poetry that I compiled, with a few annotations, and enjoy it just as early-day Bisbee residents did.

Be sure to come back here and discuss this poetry in the comments. I’m sure you’ll see things that I did not.


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