Donner Party Poetry

Donner 1The Donner Party

Submitter: Because I’m in California, information about the Donners counts as local history, but I don’t think poetry about the Donners actually fits in this category.  There are better poetry books and better books about the Donners. It’s time for this book to hit the dusty trail.

Holly: Nothing like a little cannibalism poetry to really get you to understand history. Seriously, though, it’s an “interesting” way to present the story of the Donner Party. I’m not sure it’s strictly an “awful library book,” but I’m posting it because it’s intriguing. If it isn’t of use to your patrons, though, weed it. I wonder if there’s poetry about other “unpleasant” stories from history, like “Jonestown Haiku” or “Charles Manson in Verse.” Googling…

Donner 2

Donner 3

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Donner 4


  1. Just because Edgar Lee Masters used verse to chronicle the inhabitants of Spoon River does not mean that every community (loosely-speaking) needs to be commemorated.

    1. This. Many, many, many times this. (Bearing in mind, of course, that ELM made up Spoon River, while the Donner Party was, alas, Real Life.)

  2. As a native Californian, I have to say that I learned new information for reading even the first part of Hunger and Hospitality. Maybe presenting history this way appeals to those who hate reading dry history texts. I can see students liking it a lot better! I don’t think it’s an “awful” book at all. Old, but not awful.

    1. I’m not sure that poetry would appeal to them, but I’m much more of a dry text reader myself, so I can’t say with authority.

  3. Speaking of commemorating horrifying historical events through poetry: Kyrie is one of my favorite books of all time. It’s a book of sonnets that centers around the influenza pandemic of 1918-19. And I’m not the only one who likes it; it was a finalist for the National Book Critic’s Circle Award. No topic is off limits. 🙂 I would probably check this Donner Party book out. Why not? (Every book it’s reader.)

    1. It’s the sort
      of poetry that’s little more
      than prose with funny

      line breaks. “Free

  4. The way the title words curve at the margins make it look like it was xeroxed especially badly. That or they are trying to make the serifs into devil’s tails.

  5. I so want to amend the title to Donner Party Poetry and Cookbook.
    (I tried. I really tried to behave. But as no one else had stepped up and taken the lob…)

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