Sunday, December 06, 2015

Drummond Hadley, cowboy, poet, conservationist, dies at 77

Drummond Hadley said he wasn’t a cowboy poet — he was a poet who was also a cowboy.
Hadley, 77 and a longtime Southern Arizonan, died Nov. 26 at his mother’s family’s home in Cooperstown, New York. Following a long illness, his death closes a career that included five published books, study under some of poetry’s greatest names of the 1960s and ‘70s, four decades of ranching in the Arizona-New Mexico borderlands, and leadership of a pioneering conservation organization of the Southwest.

An heir of the Anheuser-Busch family of St. Louis, he found common ground with border-area residents of all incomes and backgrounds.

“It is amazing how a regular guy knew so many super poets,” said Ross Humphreys, owner of three Southern Arizona ranches.

Rio Nuevo Publishers, owned by Humphreys, published Hadley’s landmark 2005 collection, “Voice of the Borderlands,” which sought to tell of the region’s people and landscape through narrative poetry.

...Humphreys was speaking of Hadley’s longtime work and friendship with poets such as Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and his association with the late Charles Olson. Olson, who mentored Hadley’s work many years ago, was considered a bridge between classical, mid-20th century figures such as Ezra Pound and Williams Carlos Williams and New American poets of the ‘60s such as Ginsberg.

...Born in St. Louis County, Missouri, on May 27, 1938, Hadley attended schools in St. Louis and graduated from the private Pomfret Academy prep school in Connecticut in 1956. He earned a B.A. in English literature in 1962 and an M.F.A. in literature in 1965 from UA.

He started writing poetry during the early 1960s, and later was befriended by New American poets such as Snyder and Ginsburg. In the preface to “Voice of the Borderlands,” Hadley explained his entry into ranching at around the same time:

“In the early 1960s, I left academia and got a job as a cowboy in the Southwestern Borderlands,” he wrote. “I took these as given as I do now: that we are created in the image of the earth, and that we become what surrounds us.

“I wanted to explore the possibility that the language used by cowboys and vaqueros would reflect some essence of the rough mountains, mesas and arroyos of the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts, in which they worked cattle and horses. I imagined that words might have an other than intellectual origin and understanding, that they might be rather of the body’s blood, the sweat and tears of loss and circumstance,” Hadley wrote.

In the 1960s, he worked as a cowboy on the Ella Dana and Dart ranches in Cochise County, Rancho San Bernardino in Sonora and the WS Ranch in northern New Mexico. In 1972, he moved with his family to Guadalupe Ranch in the Guadalupe Canyon area, a remote slice of southeast Arizona.

In the early 1990s, he and his neighbors and friends, including Warner and Wendy Glenn and Bill and Mary McDonald, helped establish the Malpais Borderlands Group. It’s a nonprofit organization dedicated to conservation ranching, fire ecology and open-space protection.

Around the same time, Hadley was instrumental in transferring the 272,000-acre Gray Ranch in the Animas Mountains in southwest New Mexico from the Nature Conservancy to the Animas Foundation, which he helped found.

By 2005, the Malpais Borderlands area encompassed 800,000 acres of private, federal and state land, and had developed an international reputation for trying to balance ranching and conservation, wrote Nathan Sayre in his book, “Working Wilderness: The Malpais Borderlands Group and the future of the Western Range.”

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