James Denoon: 19th Century Royal Artillery Officer and “Everyman’s” Poet
Rediscovered by poet, critic and editor Carmine Starnino.
In 2006, Montreal poet and book dealer Michael Harris discovered a 125-year-old packet of handwritten, occasional verse “chapbooks” authored by an officer of the Royal Artillery named James Denoon (1802-1901). The essay uses the occasion of Harris’ discovery to write about Denoon, uncovering his life through his poetry, and at the same time celebrating unknown versifiers who wrote not for fame, but out of a sense of duty to family, friends, and community. Occasional, unpretentious verse (otherwise known as doggerel) has a long tradition in English poetry, a phenomenon that was especially powerful during the time Denoon was alive.