South Dakota poet: Doug Cockrell

A colleague of mine recently gave me a book of poetry by Doug Cockrell, who I think he said lives in Huron, SD. The book, “A Strange Descending” published in 1992 by Eagle Earth Press of Brookings, SD, is a collection that features various insects in each poem. My colleague said that Cockrell has struggled with psychological issues for a long time and that the poems are metaphors for those struggles.

The characters here are lacewings, dung beetles, trapdoor spiders, gnats, crickets and many others. Behind each of them, though, is the author.

It’s been a surprisingly great read. The poems are remarkable for their keen observations of the nature of the insect world and its symbolic connection to us. Also notable are the accompanying drawings by Julie Wolf.

Cockrell has lived in Redfield, SD, and graduated from South Dakota State University in 1975.


~ by ericedits on March 22, 2008.

6 Responses to “South Dakota poet: Doug Cockrell”

  1. Stumbled here after trying to find some info on Mr. Cockrell on Google.

    I’m an undergrad at SDSU, and I’m currently in Dr. Charles Woodard’s American poetry class. Dr. Woodard is Doug’s close friend (and editor of his book), and last week Cockrell accepted an invitation to come to our class and speak to us about “A Strange Descending”.

    Doug Cockrell is an amazing person to talk to, and we all were inspired by his words and insight into his book.

    By his own admittance, he did not write the poems in his “bug-book” to stand as metaphors for his psychological issues. However, he and our class agreed that many of the poems could be interpreted in that light.

    It was easy to see that his talent as a poet is rooted in a deep knowledge and respect of all things of our world. He was so polite, humble, genuine and likable as a person and poet.

    It’s neat to see interest in Mr. Cockrell’s poetry far from this wind-plagued land we call South Dakota!


  2. From an SDSU grad, thanks for commenting, Mitch. Actually, though, I’m in Rapid City in wind-plagued South Dakota. My goal is to illuminate the poetry here, which you have helped do with your information about Cockrell and “A Strange Descending.” I like the poems better knowing they’re not metaphors for his psychological issues.


  3. Hi, Eric,
    Thank you for your post re: my brother, Doug Cockrell. I will send Doug a copy of your comments, which, I’m sure, he’ll appreciate.
    Doug has always had a fascination with the natural world and, initially, set out to be a science writer when he began his studies at SDSU. “A Strange Descending” is an example of his ability to see/write about the intricacies of the natural world.
    Again, thanks for recognizing another fine South Dakota poet that merits a wider audience.


    • I was just in SD at my mom’s, reading the Huron newspaper clippings about Doug that she had saved. Mom had enjoyed hearing his poetry reading. Vicki (his sister), you were my classmate at Tulare until you moved away in 2nd grade. I was always sad about that. Obviously, Doug had a remarkable spirit. I wish I could have known him.


  4. Doug is an amazing human being.


  5. God bless and keep you Dougie, we loved you buddy~


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