COOPERSTOWN – Drum Hadley, 77, a poet who studied under Charles Olson and befriended Allen Ginsberg, passed away at his mother’s family summer home in Cooperstown on Sunday, Nov. 26, after a long illness.
Born in St. Louis County, Mo., on May 27, 1938, Drum attended schools in St. Louis, graduated from Pomfret Academy in Connecticut (1956), and received a B. A. in English Literature (1962) and a Master of Fine Arts in Literature (1965) from the University of Arizona. During the early 1960s, encouraged by his professor Barney Childs, his dear friend and fellow poet Keith Wilson, and the UA Poetry Center, Drum began writing poetry. After attending poetry festivals in Vancouver (1963) and Berkeley (1965), he was befriended by writers of the New American Poetry movement, including Gary Snyder, Allen Ginsburg, and Jim Koller, and became a protégé of Charles Olson.
He gave readings throughout the West and published poems in numerous literary journals. His first book, “The Webbing” (published by Donald Allen, Four Seasons Foundation, 1967), was followed by “Spirit by the Deep Well Tank” (Goliard, 1972), “Strands of Rawhide” (Goliard,1972), “Voice of the Borderlands” (Rio Nuevo Press, 2005) and “Light Before Dawn” (Chax Press, 2010).
During the 1960s, Drum worked as a cowboy on cattle ranches, including Ella Dana and Bill Bryan’s Dart Ranch in Cochise County, the Elías brother’s Rancho San Bernardino in Sonora, where he was part of the range crew for one of the last traditional month-long roundups, and the WS Ranch in northern New Mexico (now the Turner’s Vermejo Park Ranch).
In 1972, he moved with his family to Guadalupe Ranch in a remote part of the Arizona-New Mexico border country, where he and his wife raised their three children. In 1993, along with his neighbors and friends Warner and Wendy Glenn and Bill and Mary McDonald, Drum was instrumental in establishing the Malpai Borderlands Group, a now-famous nonprofit devoted to scientific conservation ranching, landscape-level restoration, water conservation, preservation of open space, and the functioning of healthy natural processes on the land. The common ground established by this group through collaboration between owners of ranch lands, governmental agencies, and conservation nonprofit groups has become a model throughout the United States. Drum’s innovative concept of grass-banking in exchange for conservation easements is now emulated throughout the West.
In 1994, Drum, his son Seth, and his cousin Leo MacDonald were instrumental in the transfer of the Gray Ranch (now known as the Diamond A – for its original 19th century livestock brand), from the Nature Conservancy to the Animas Foundation. Thanks to Drum’s dedication and foresight, the Diamond A Ranch has become exemplary in conservation ranching, scientific research, preservation of traditional ranch life and customs, and commitment to open space.
Drum is survived by his three children Lida Hadley (Atty Mullins), Seth Hadley (Sandra Reagan), and Sadie Hadley (Sage Goodwin), by seven grandchildren, sister Hope Hadley Burghardt and brother Willis Dean Hadley, Jr., two former wives, Diana Hadley and Teresa Turner Hadley, his companion Holly Piper, and by many cousins and friends.
He was predeceased by his parents Willis Dean Hadley and Jacqueline Jones Hadley.
Private burial will take place on his home ranch in Guadalupe Canyon to be followed by a memorial service and reading of his poetry in the spring.
Much appreciated memorial contributions may be made to the Animas Foundation, 14 Diamond A Drive, Animas, NM 88020. Inquires are welcomed and may be made by phoning Jennifer Medina at (575) 548-2622, or by email at email@example.com
“Each time I say goodbye to you,
Each time you say goodbye to me,
So then, is the last:
The last one that we will ever say again.”
–Drum Hadley 2010