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Few people have influenced as many contemporary poets and reciters as Mason Coggin (1938-2000), co-founder, with his wife Janice Coggin, of the respected Cowboy Miner Productions. The company's books of classic cowboy poetry, affordable volumes with well-chosen poems and biographical material are, for many, their only source for the classic poetry of poets such as Bruce Kiskaddon, S. Omar Barker, and Henry Herbert Knibbs

Mason Coggin was also a mining expert and historian; he was the director of the Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources, and a word-renowned expert on gold placer mining. His expertise, along with a lifelong appreciation for poetry, led him to become an expert, also, on mining poetry and classic cowboy poetry. Those passions were the catalyst for Cowboy Miner Productions. Mason Coggin was a writer, poet, and reciter who was a familiar figure on many Western stages. Mason Coggin was a friend to many, and he encouraged many young poets and reciters, among them Andy Hedges and Jerry "Brooksie" Brooks.

Mason Coggin was born in Bisbee, Arizona in 1938 and died in Phoenix on Nov. 7, 2000. Just a few words from an obituary in the Sierra Vista Herald draw a quick portrait of this well-loved man:  "Mason was a man who loved life and enjoyed people. He was quick on the draw with a greeting, a smile, sometimes a joke, and, most likely, a poem. If you knew him, he called you a friend, and when he did, you knew he meant it." Read more, along with some tributes from his friends and family here.

Mason Coggin  1938-2000

In 2006, Cowboy Miner released a second edition of Rhymes of the Mines; Life in the Underground, an expanded version of an earlier book that was edited by Mason Coggin. The new edition contains additional poems and illustrations. Among the many works included are respected classics from Robert Service, Arthur Chapman, Bruce Kiskaddon, and Badger Clark; poems from contemporary poets, including Jim Cook, Dean Cook, Kent Rollins, Ken Graydon, and Nona Kelley Carver; well-known anonymous, traditional poems; Mason Coggin's own poetry; and an award-winning poem by Janice Coggin, who carries on the work of Cowboy Miner Productions.

A companion CD features Mason Coggin reciting "The Prospector" and "The Cremation of Sam McGee" by Robert Service; "My Sweetheart's a Mule in the Mine," "Sully's Bucket," "The Other Shift," and other well-known pieces.

With the kind permission of publisher Janice Coggin of Cowboy Miner Productions, we're pleased to have excerpts from the second edition of Rhymes of the Mines.

Below:

Rhymes of the Mines book

Dedication
Table of Contents
"We Mine Copper," by Mason Coggin
"The Ride," by Janice Coggin

 

Rhymes of the Mines CD
Track List

 

Ordering information

More about Cowboy Miner Productions



  Rhymes of the Mines; Life in the Underground

This book is the second edition, published in 2006 by Cowboy Miner Productions. The publisher describes the book:

This volume is Dedicated to Mason Coggin, and to the spirit of all miners whose adventurous souls, and courageous lives gave the mining community such a marvelous history.

New poems have been added to the favorites of the first edition. They record both the history of mining and today's rapidly changing industry through the voices of the candle-carrying men of the 1800s to men and women of today. Vignettes taken from old mining stock certificates and mining pictures from throughout the world are scattered throughout the 144-page book.

The cover illustration is also by Mason Coggin.

Below are poems by Mason and Janice Coggin, both received awards. Janice Coggin commented on our selections, "Mason's poem was one of a few that he wrote.  I felt it said a lot about the feelings of those that work underground. Mine was the only poem I ever wrote.  It grew from the conversations of miners, mostly Mason, his father and their friends..." 

The book's Dedication

This book is dedicated to Mason Coggin, a man who felt as at home in an underground mine as he did in the wilds of the world exploring for placer gold.

Born in Bisbee, Arizona, he often told tales of his boyhood when, equipped with a flashlight or a candle, he would explore the many adits (tunnels) surrounding Bisbee.

Work in the underground mines of San Manuel and Bisbee enabled him to attain the funding for his degree in Mining Engineering from the University of Arizona.  Following in the footsteps of his grandfather and father, he returned to Bisbee where he began his career as a junior engineer in the underground mines. He worked his way up the ladder to stope engineer. He went on to work at several different mining properties in Arizona, then expanded his scope to the world as he became one of the few placer gold experts in the world. He was strong advocate for mining, often reminding those he spoke to that without metal, manufacturing, or refining, they would be standing naked in the world trying to hunt their food with a club.

His first loves were always the underground and mining history. He wrote several chapters for the Mining History Association's publications and began a history of the Calumet and Arizona Mining Company. This company was owner and operator of mines in the Ajo and Bisbee areas, as well as other properties in the West. They eventually sold to the Phelps Dodge Corporation in the 1930s.

His memory was phenomenal and came to his aid in reciting poetry and in the talks he gave throughout the West on mining history. As a history professor at Arizona State University often said, "If you have a question on mining history, ask Mason." He also served as Director of the Department of Mines and Mineral Resources for the State of Arizona before retiring.

He never forgot his roots in Bisbee, often donating his time and expertise to the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum.

His love of poetry started early in his life as he memorized and recited several poems by Robert Service, "The Prospector" being his favorite. After attending a gathering of cowboy poets and musicians in Prescott, Arizona, he became fascinated with classic cowboy poetry and began reciting, soon becoming a familiar figure on stage. Failure to find the books he needed on his favorite authors lead to the birth of Cowboy Miner Productions. This publishing company has gone on to be a well-respected producer of books of cowboy and mining poetry, as well as western history.

Although Mason passed away in November of 2000, dedications of poems and CDs remind us of his wide smile, sense of humor, and magnificent recitations. He never met a person he did not like, nor ever forgot a friend.


Mason Coggin  1938-2000


Contents:

With a Wink and Smile, by E. A. Jones

Here's to the Miners, by Anthony Fitch
Tony, by Ned White
The Ride, by Janice Coggin
The Engineers, anonymous
Mines of Avondale, anonymous
The Helmet Men, by F. E. Vaughn
The Tunnel, by Tony Brewis
The Park Hall Paddy Train, by Tony Brewis
Testimony of Patience Kershaw, by Frank Higgins
Only a Miner, "Captain Jack" Crawford
My Sweetheart's a Mule in the Mine, anonymous
My Sweetheart's a Mule in the Mine, by Gene Matck
Sully's Bucket, by Dick Gibbons
Jim Finche's Mine Report, by Ashurst Whiteside
A Question of Dimension, by Ashurst Whiteside
The Miner's Viewpoint, unattributed
The Engineer's Idea, unattributed
The Assay,
by Badger Clark
The Canary, by Gary Prazen
The Image o' God, by Joe Corrie
It's Fine Tae Keep In Wi' the Gaffer, by Joe Corrie
The Other Shift, anonymous
Life, by Joe Tankersley
The Prospector, by
Robert Service
Glory Hole, by
Dean Cook
Mining Music, by Tony Brewis
Down Underground, by Oscar Peabody (Bill Crawford?)
The Old Town of Ray, by
Dean Cook
The Birth of a City, by Robert R. Lucey
When It's Payday on the Mountain, by Homer "Pinkey" McKinley
Bet Your Life, by Rufus L. Porter
Solidarity Forever, from IWW Little Red Song Book
The Copper Strike of '17, bu Joe Kennedy
The Mines of the Old P. D., by T. B. Peters
Introduction to Ajo, anonymous 
We Sleep Nights in Cripple Creek, by F. R. Leary
Buried Treasure, by James E. Cook
And There is No Night In Creede, by Cy Warman
In a Deserted Mining Camp, by
Arthur Chapman
Let us Bray, by James E. Cook
The Cat Pioneers,
by Badger Clark
How Mining Claims are Named, by F. E. Vaughn
The Ol' Ginny Mine, by Daisy L. Detrick
The Lost Mines, by
Bruce Kiskaddon  
It's Interesting, by
Kent Rollins
The Call of the West, by Anthony Fitch
Oh, California, anonymous
The Old Prospector,
by Badger Clark
Adios, by Dick Wick Hall
Talkin' Hard Rock Miner Blues, by
Dean Cook
One Brick at a Time, by
Dean Cook
Ghost Town, by Rufus L. Porter
Fire on the Mountain, Fire in the Hole, by Ken Graydon
Mining Era Epitaph, by
Nona Kelley Carver
The Tommy Knockers, by Anthony Fitch
The Sand-House Committee, by Dick Hays
The Six Blind Men, by J. B. Saxe
We Mine Copper, by H. Mason Coggin


 

Poems

 

We Mine Copper

Have you ever sat in total dark,
Down in the cold dark mine,
Where the only sound was the
Ringing drip, drip, drip of water
Seeping slowly from the ground?

I wish things would never change
But knowing tomorrow they will
For they're going to shut'er down.
"Mined out!" bean counters say.
"Can't make a dime. We close today."

You hear these words and many more
As you sit with your light turned off
But, the only real sound around
Is your breath and drip, drip, drip
of water from the seeping ground.

No more the boys to ride the cage,
To toil their lives away,
Breaking rock and mucking ore,
For jippo cash and days base pay.
The will be closing the mine today.

But voices, sights and sounds
Fill my mind in the silent dark
Men and muscle and brawn and brain
Break rock in the drip, drip, drip
of water that falls like rain.

Never more to mine the gold,
copper, silver, lead and zinc,
And never more the hole to sink,
To give the world its hidden worth,
From the depths deep down below.

We mined here for a hundred years,
Bringing the nation wealth.
Father, son and grandson, too
and planted 'neath this earth.
Most have died a natural death.

Some from other causes, too,
Lie buried here in soft gray clay
To await the dawn of Judgment Day
Do they hear the drip, drip, drip
of water from the seeping ground?

We have made our world a better place,
And we all brought home good pay,
And lived the way we wanted to
In work, and home and play.
And listened to the drip, drip, drip
Of water from the seeping ground.

The copper we mined shrunk the world,
It fills our homes with light
Heats the house, cooks our food,
and keeps us cool on summer nights
While our motors whir and work.

I hear the ghosts of men long dead.
And here they drill and blast,
And dig the ore from mother earth,
And hear the drip, drip, drip
Of water from the seeping ground.

The bookies say the ore's all gone.
That we can work no more.
Yet there is copper everywhere.
Don't they know this is a copper store?
But the bookies say, "It just won't pay."

Tomorrow these men will be gone,
And soon I will be going too,
But what of those who stay behind?
In darkness with the drip, drip, drip
Of water from the seeping ground.

2000, H. Mason Coggin, from Rhymes of the Mines; Life in the Underground
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

This poem was awarded third place in the 2000 Mining Poetry Contest by the National Mining Museum in Leadville, Colorado



 

The Ride

Men in rubber coats, hard hats, light packs, safety belts, boot snug,
Packed into the cage, three by three rows.
One last trick by the nimble fingers of the practical joker
The cage door closes, hands packed tight grasping lunch pails.

The cage drops, leaving daylight behind.
Flipping light, dark, light, dark as stations pass.
A whiff of cigarette smoke, a hint of powder, of machine oil,
Pine oil mixed with fresh timber, the distinct smell of sulphide ore.

The clatter of jack leg, the echo of a double jack,
A snatch of conversation, the whine of a fan, the ring of bells,
The swish of the wire rope, the clatter of the cage.
Dashes of cold air as stations pass, the heat of the lower levels.

Light, dark, light, dark 1000, 2000, 3000, 3500.
The cage gives a mighty leap, several small hops
     and the door swings open.

1999, Janice Coggin, from Rhymes of the Mines; Life in the Underground
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

This poem tied for second place in the 1999 Mining Poetry Contest by the National Mining Museum in Leadville, Colorado

 

 


  Rhymes of the Mines; Life in the Underground (CD)

This companion CD features Mason Coggin reciting "The Prospector," "The Cremation of Sam McGee" by Robert Service, and other poems.  

Contents:

The Prospector by Robert Service
It's Interesting, anonymous
Jim Finche's Mine Report, by Ashrust Whiteside
A Question of Dimension, by Ashrust Whiteside
The Desert Rat, by
Curley Fletcher
Looking Back Over Your Shoulder, by H. Mason Coggin
My Sweethear's a Mule in the Mine, anonymous
Tony, by Ned White
Sully's Bucket, by
Dick Gibbons
The Smoke Hound, anonymous
I Learned About Safety from Him, by San Joaquin
Ghost Town, by Rufus L. Porter
Silver Bells and Golden Spurs, anonymous
The Ride, by Janice Coggin
The Other Shift, anonymous
Lawyers and Experts, by Raymond Rossiter
A Miner, by Ned White
The Men That Don't Fit In, by
Robert Service
The Cremation of Sam McGee, by
Robert Service

Find order information below and read more about the CD  here at the Cowboy Miner Productions web site.

 


Ordering information

 

Rhymes of the Mines; Life in the Underground

This book is the second edition, published in 2006 by Cowboy Miner Productions

ISBN: 978-1-931725-23-1

See the table of contents above.

Find order information and read more about the book here at the Cowboy Miner Productions web site.

 

This CD, produced in 200x by Cowboy Miner Productions

See the track list above.

Find order information and read more about the CD  here at the Cowboy Miner Productions web site.

 

  mcrhymescd2jp.jpg (57356 bytes)

 

The 2006 book and the CD are also currently available as a set for $20.00

Find order information and read more about both at the Cowboy Miner Productions web site.

 


 

More about Cowboy Miner

Cowboy Miner Productions publishes award-winning classic Cowboy and mining poetry, contemporary Cowboy Poetry, Arizona history, and more.  

Visit the Cowboy Miner web site for complete information. Other features at CowboyPoetry.com on other classic Cowboy Poets Badger Clark, Bruce Kiskaddon and Henry Herbert Knibbs are based on Cowboy Miner books, made possible by their kind cooperation.  We're pleased to have the poetry of many of the contemporary poets they've published, including Chris Isaacs, the late Larry McWhorter, the late Sunny Hancock, Linda Kirkpatrick,  Dee Strickland Johnson, Carole Jarvis, Jane Morton, and others.

 

Click for Cowboy Miner Productions  Click for Cowboy Miner  Click for Cowboy Miner   

 


Mason Coggin  1938-2000

See tributes to Mason Coggin here.

Never Forgotten

 

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