The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Five (2010) is a compilation of vintage and contemporary recordings of some of the best cowboy poetry. A wide range of voices present tales that express this venerable art form, words that uncover "the heartbeat of the working West."
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What's inside The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Five (2010)
The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Five (2010) is a compilation of vintage and contemporary recordings of some of the best classic and contemporary cowboy poetry. A wide range of voices present tales that express this venerable art form, words that uncover "the heartbeat of the working West."
This fifth CD opens with a somewhat uncharacteristically boisterous first track, a piece of traditional "cowboy brag talk" by the legendary Harry Jackson, captured on a rare Smithsonian Folkways recording from 1959:
I was born full-growed with nine rows of jaw teeth and holes bored for more. There was spurs on my feet and a rawhide quirt in my hand, and when they opens the chute I come out a-riding a panther and a-roping the long-horned whales. I've rode everything with hair on it...and I've rode a few things that was too rough to grow any hair....
....To keep alive I eat stick dynamite and cactus....when I get thirsty I drink cyanide cut with alkali. When I go to sleep I pillow my head on the Big Horn mountains, I lay my boots in Colorada and my hat in Montana. I can stretch out my arms clean out from the Crazy Woman Fork plumb over to the Upper Grey Bull River. My bed tarp covers half of Texas and all of old Mexico.
But there's one thing for sure and certain, and if you boys wants to know, I'll tell you ....
That spirit continues with top reciter Jerry A. Brooks' channeling a delightful example of another larger-than-life character with "The Legend of Boastful Bill," written in 1907 by Charles Badger Clark, Jr. (1883-1957). Among Bill's claims and imagined challenge:
"If you'd ever watched my habits very close
You would know I've broke such rabbits by the gross.
I have kep' my talent hidin';
I'm too good for earthly ridin'
And I'm off to bust the lightnin's,—
Years have gone since that ascension.
Boastful Bill ain't never lit,
So we reckon that he's wrenchin'
Some celestial outlaw's bit.
When the night rain beats our slickers
And the wind is swift and stout
And the lightnin' flares and flickers,
We kin sometimes hear him shout,—
"I'm a bronco-twistin' wonder on the fly;
I'm the ridin' son-of-thunder of the sky.
Hi! you earthlin's, shut your winders
While we're rippin' clouds to flinders.
If this blue-eyed darlin' kicks at you, you die!"
Stardust on his chaps and saddle,
Scornful still of jar and jolt,
He'll come back some day, astraddle
Of a bald-faced thunderbolt.
And the thin-skinned generation
Of that dim and distant day
Sure will stare with admiration
When they hear old Boastful say,—
"I was first, as old rawhiders all confessed.
Now I'm last of all rough riders, and the best.
Huh, you soft and dainty floaters,
With your a'roplanes and motors,—
Huh! are you the great grandchildren of the West!"
Listen carefully for a tiny one-word change in the recording that "modernizes" the poem. The late Buck Ramsey commented, "..for imaginative cowboy lingo and outlandish braggadocio, Badger Clark's "The Legend of Boastful Bill" is hard to beat...Bill goes on one hell of a ride, but as a challenge this raging bronc is for Boastful Bill about like hairpinning Aunt Maude's milk cow..."
California writer and poet Janice Gilbertson takes listeners back to the reality of modern-day cowboy life in "Maybe It's Your Callin'":
It could be the slap of leather
The jangle of the bridle chains
The cadence of the hoofbeats down the lane
There's that friendly cowboy banter
And the planning of the gather
Some spittin' and some razzin' to sustain
Rancher, horseman, and National Endowment for the Arts Fellow Joel Nelson continues that thread, with his pondering of "horseback men with horseback laws" in "Awakenings":
We cannot say what drew us here,
What piper's flute, what siren's song
In younger days—another year
While sun was low and shadows long.
The late Larry McWhorter, a respected cowboy, lets listeners in on a cowboy's work in another masterpiece of storytelling, in "Waitin' on the Drive":
Spring works are on and we're leavin' 'fore dawn
And we won't strip our kacks 'til night.
As I jingle the horses I wonder
How the bunkhouse looks in daylight.
Shadows stretch out as Ol' Sol makes his call
Climbing slowly up toward his domain,
And does away with the morn's early fog,
Remnant of last night's gentle rain.
But 'fore I drop off I draw a breath of crisp air,
The kind that brought Adam to life,
And I thank God that He made this feller that's me
As I sit, waitin' on the drive.
Ranch-raised Texas writer, poet, and reciter Linda Kirkpatrick carries on the cowboy's story in her recitation of "Creak of the Leather" by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950), who wrote:
There are things that will haunt you forever
You notice that strange as it seems
One sound, the soft creak of the leather,
Weaves into your memories and dreams.
Poet, songwriter, entertainer, and past Texas Poet Laureate Red Steagall doles out some cowboy advice in his widely known work, "The Fence That Me and Shorty Built":
If you're not proud of what you do,
You won't amount to much.
You'll bounce around from job to job
Just slightly out of touch.
Recitations then turn to the distaff side, gently introduced by prominent horseman, poet, and reciter Randy Rieman's presentation of Charles Badger Clark, Jr.'s "The Married Man":
He's left it, with all the good, free-footed things,
For a slow little song that a tired woman sings
And a smoke when his dry day is gone.
California poet and writer Susan Parker follows with "The Ranch Mother" by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985):
She knows the keen of lonely winds
The sound of hoofs at night,
The creak of unwarmed saddles in
The chill before daylight,
The champ of eager bridle bits,
The jingle-clink of spurs,
The clump of boots—lone silence, too,
For cowboy sons are hers.
Arizona treasure, songwriter and poet Dee Strickland Johnson ("Buckshot Dot") creates an unforgettable character in her humorous poem, "Tomboy":
Skinny tomboy, seven brothers,
and assorted brothers' friends
On our little cattle ponies,
raced to hell and back again.
We'd roar down the dry arroyas;
then we'd all come tearing back,
There was Buzz and Paul and Donnie
and that rascal Charlie Black
Octogenarian cowboy, poet, and Cowgirl Hall of Fame inductee Georgie Sicking—whose image is the cover of the CD—draws on her own experience of going against the grain in "Be Yourself":
"Take off that Levi jumper
Put up those bat wing chaps.
Put on a little makeup and
We can get a date for you, 'perhaps.'
"Forget about that roping.
That will make calluses on your hands.
And you know it takes soft fingers
If you want to catch a man!
(She didn't take the advice; the CD's cover photo was taken in about 1940 when Georgie Sicking was on her first date with the man who was to become her husband.)
"Buckshot Dot" says that hearing Georgie Sicking many years ago at the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering talking about her life caused her to reflect on her own childhood and inspired her "Tomboy" poem.
Georgie Sicking's friend, Minnesota rancher Diane Tribitt offers "Headin' Out," a poem inspired by a day the two spent together and included in a special National Day of the Cowboy Art Spur based on a photograph of the scene she writes about:
She lived for ropin' cattle, and
she roped 'em with be best
Tied ‘t burrows, cows and mustangs,
surpassing every test
Though she is blind, now, she still sees
what some refuse to see
for her soul was borne of nature
and her spirit's proud and free
She was born to be a cowboy
and there ain't any doubt,
When most old hands are headin' in
they'll meet her, headin out
North Dakota's Rodney Nelson brings on some humor as a long-suffering ranch wife is put to the test in "Good Clean Fun":
Well, our yard light burned out last year,
and since I'd run that farmhand all my life,
I knew we could fix it in a minute
if I could convince the wife!
Wasn't easy to convince her,
she said a housewife was her role,
Though mad she was, she climbed aboard,
Took a ride to the top of the pole.
I said, "Sweetheart, I'm so proud of you"
when she fixed the light—
"And you're especially lovely when you're angry,
You really are a sight."
Popular South Dakota poet and ranch wife Yvonne Hollenbeck offers her own sort of comeback with a description of a rancher's truck in "The Ranch Rig":
It's the inside of his ranch rig,
perhaps I should I explain...
Have you ever seen the aftermath of cyclones or of war?
or the effects of an explosion, its carnage and its horror?
Have you ever smelled a feedlot mixed with someone's garlic breath
or a decomposing mouse after D-Con caused its death?
That helps set the scene for Andy Nelson's poem, "My Shoeing Rig":
My horseshoeing truck, is part primer gray,
And it is a wonder to behold;
I often wonder, will it start today,
And what's smoking on the manifold.
She's held together, with duct tape and wire,
And runs mainly on diesel and luck;
With the money I make, as a shoer for hire,
I sure can't afford a new truck.
So onward we go, just staying the course,
Though some days I doubt she will make 'er;
And I've always said, if she were a horse,
Not even the canner would take 'er.
No one can start a new conversation like California artist and "bad boy of cowboy poetry" Pat Richardson, which he does with "The Confession":
It’s high time I up and admit it,
Get honest and straight with you guys;
Most of the poems I’ve written
Are shoddily penned and damn lies.
Top cowboy poet Baxter Black has said about Pat's poetry, "If you boiled cowboy poetry down to what's worth savin', this is what the stew would smell like." And that characterization may be a kind of first course for Montana ranch hand, songwriter, and poet DW Groethe's wild windy of "The Night Ol' Flukie Foundered":
We'd been quaffin' quarts of beers
an exchangin' Christmas cheers,
yeehawin' hoots an' shriekin' filled the hall.
'Cause in honor of the season
an' fer one another reason,
it was time for Smokey's annual oyster ball."
After the tale of "Flukie's" gastronomic feat, the poem ends:
'Twas a night if I fergit,
won't bother me a bit,
there are some things a man should not recall.
Like the moment of his birth...
how much his "ex" is worth...
an' the night Ol' Flukie foundered at the hall.
Music historian, musician, and reciter Rex Rideout continues the lighter side of things with his recitation of the anonymous vintage poem, "When Bob Got Throwed."
That time when Bob got throwed
I thought I sure would bust;
I liked to died a-laffin'
To see him chewin' dust.
Rex Rideout notes that the poem first appears in John Lomax's 1919 book, Songs of the Cattle Trail and Cowcamp, "and the author or source is credited simply as "Ray." In a second edition of Songs of the Cowboys, published in 1921, Jack Thorp includes the poem with the introduction, "Author unknown. Heard it sung in Arizona at Hachita by a puncher named Livingston." Rex comments, "It never again appeared in any early cowboy poetry collections or anthologies..."
Rodeo and radio broadcaster Jim Thompson recites an important cowboy catch phrase in S. Omar Barker's "He'll Do":
Big words never warm up no cowpuncher's heart
In praise of him doin' his best
Like them simple phrases. A man does his part—
"He'll do, boys!" they say in the West.
"He'll do" is echoed in the next poem by the late Buck Ramsey, perhaps the most respected writer among cowboy poets, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow widely recognized as the modern spiritual leader of the genre. Buck Ramsey's recitation is "Chapter Four" from his book-length masterpiece, Grass, another piece of the story of the beginning's of a young cowboy's career:
He earned his calling, and he earned
The label of a true and bold one.
They told the best of him—just this:
"He'll do to ride the river with."
In what has become a proud tradition, each edition of The BAR-D Roundup includes a chapter from Grass.
The love of his work comes through Nebraska cowboy Marty Blocker's in "When the Grass Still Holds the Dew":
Have you rode out into a morning amongst a cowboy crew?
The air is brisk and crisp and the grass still holds the dew.
Your horse is feelin' fresh and strong as you start to leave the ropes
You walk him out a little ways and then you trot him into a lope.
The theme carries through in Oklahoma rancher Jay Snider's poem, and the need for moisture is invoked in his "Rainy Day Prayer":
There's no more precious sight than a drought in flight
No sweeter smell than air washed clean
Cowboy and rancher Ken Cook seconds that plea and celebrates the rain in "Fill 'em Up to Overflowing":
There's nothin' forged by mortal man can measure full the gain
When God swings wide old heaven's gate and sorts a day of rain
The outside world intrudes on those pastoral visions in the next two poems, written many decades apart, both stories of war. Nevada writer and poet Hal Swift recites Charles Badger Clark, Jr. "Jeff Hart," a poem of World War I, where:
Jeff Hart rode out of the gulch one night;
Next morning the world came in.
Arizona packer and cowboy Chris Isaacs offers his often-requested poem, "Michael Bia," the true story of a Navajo rodeo cowboy who did not return from the war in Vietnam. Chris has written about its origins at "...the Fourth of July rodeo in Window Rock, Arizona, where I was entered when something happened that haunted me for years. The Navajo tribe paid tribute to Michael Bia at that rodeo by taking his chaps and spurs and attaching them to a bull with Michael's bull rope and then turning the bull loose in the arena during a moment of silence...."
You rode the bulls and rode them well,
But you wouldn't leave the reservation's Citadel
Though it was known you could excel.
Ah, you could ride 'em Michael Bia.
The White House called; you left your land,
And off you went to Viet Nam,
To a war you did not understand.
You did your duty, Michael Bia.
Now often when I think of the past
Or cross that reservation vast,
Or see Old Glory at half-mast,
I think of Michael Bia.
Acclaimed cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell's reflective poem follows, as he acknowledges "doing the right thing" and the precious worth of every moment in "No Second Chance":
Did you ever wish you could turn time back
Live things over again to avoid regrets
or maybe bite a lip so as not to hurt a friend
You could pull up your horse before he fell
the steer still got away or maybe push a little harder
when the works went bad so the job'd get done that day
Best try to do it the first time around,
because folks, there ain't no second chance.
Popular Alberta poet Doris Daley closes the main portion of The BAR-D Roundup and speaks for so many poets with her "Goodnight to the Trail":
I wish my pen could find the wings
To soar with rhyme when the nightwind sings
But words are often feeble things
To get that job done right.
But the rhymes won't come; my pen is dry
No poem could capture this sweep of sky
Let's hit the trail and say goodbye
To this patch of God's good clay.
So mount up, Joe, let's ride for home
The range wants to sleep 'neath its starry dome
The wind and sky can finish this poem,
We'll call it quits for today.
So ride with me as the light turns pale
See the moon come up, hear the coyotes wail
Supper's waiting, and we say to the trail,
Good night, Old Friend, good night.
Several of Charles Badger Clark, Jr.'s poems are featured on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume 5, and the special classic recording portion of this CD includes his own introduction to and recitation of his still-popular poem, "A Cowboy's Prayer" from a 1956 recording.
Son of a minister, Clark tells that his mother asked him to write a cowboy's prayer. He says, "I laughed at the idea at first. I told her I'd never heard a cowboy pray in my life. I'd heard them use some language that had a kind of a religious flavor, but it was decidedly not in a prayerful spirit....Mother was right, it turned out to be the most popular thing that I have ever written...I think it will outlive me, which of course is a writer's dream...."
The poem was published in The
Pacific Monthly, December of 1906.
In Katie Lee's classic book,
The poem was published in The Pacific Monthly, December of 1906.
In Katie Lee's classic book,
Thousand Goddam Cattle, A History of the American Cowboy in Song, Story, and
Verse, she writes about the poem, "Of the hundreds of poems written about cowboys praying to the stars, this is
probably the best... The language is true to his free-roving spirit
and gives insight to the code he lived by—the things he expected of
Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle, A History of the American Cowboy in Song, Story, and Verse, she writes about the poem, "Of the hundreds of poems written about cowboys praying to the stars, this is probably the best... The language is true to his free-roving spirit and gives insight to the code he lived by—the things he expected of himself."
Just let me live my life as I've begun
And give me work that's open to the sky;
Make me a pardner of the wind and sun,
And I won't ask a life that's soft or high.
....guide me on the long, dim, trail ahead
That stretches upward toward the Great Divide.
The Center's Cowboy Poetry Week celebration—recognized by unanimous U.S. Senate resolution and by twenty-two states' governors and officials—is held each April during National Poetry Month. Each year, The BAR-D Roundup CD and the celebration's poster (by top Western artist Bill Owen in 2010) are offered to libraries in the Center's Rural Library Project. The outreach program is a part of the Center’s commitment to serve rural communities and to preserve and promote our Western heritage.
We need your support to continue and expand these programs. Read below about how you can be a part of it all.
Track list for The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Five (2010)
1. SOME COWBOY BRAG TALK Harry Jackson
from the recording entitled The Cowboy: His Songs, Ballads, and Brag Talk, FW05723, provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways © 1959. Used by Permission.; www.harryjackson.com
2. THE LEGEND OF BOASTFUL BILL (Charles Badger Clark, Jr., 1883-1957) Jerry A. Brooks
recorded by Hal Cannon and Taki Telonidis in 2009, courtesy of the Western Folklife Center
3. MAYBE IT’S YOUR CALLIN’ Janice Gilbertson
recorded for The BAR-D Roundup
4 AWAKENINGS Joel Nelson
from The Breaker in the Pen (1999)
5. WAITIN’ ON THE DRIVE Larry McWhorter, (1957-2003)
from The Poetry of Larry McWhorter (2010); www.jeanprescott.com
6. THE CREAK OF THE LEATHER (Bruce Kiskaddon, 1878-1950) Linda Kirkpatrick
recorded for The BAR-D Roundup; www.lindakirkpatrick.net
7. THE FENCE THAT ME AND SHORTY BUILT Red Steagall
from Faith and Values (1995); www.redsteagall.com
8. THE MARRIED MAN Randy Rieman (Charles Badger Clark, Jr., 1883-1957)
from Old Favorites (2003)
9. RANCH MOTHER (S. Omar Barker (1895-1985) Susan Parker
from She Rode a Wild Horse (2007); www.susanparkerpoet.com
10. TOMBOY Dee Strickland Johnson ("Buckshot Dot")
from Cowman’s Wife (1996); www.buckshotdot.com
11. BE YOURSELF Georgie Sicking
from To Be a Top Hand (2007)
12. HEADIN’ OUT Diane Tribitt
recorded for The BAR-D Roundup; www.dianetribitt.com
13. GOOD CLEAN FUN Rodney Nelson
from Where the Buffalo Rhyme (2003)
14. THE RANCH RIG Yvonne Hollenbeck
from Ranch Life 101 (2009); www.yvonnehollenbeck.com
15. MY SHOEING RIG Andy Nelson
recorded for The BAR-D Roundup; www.cowpokepoet.com
16. THE CONFESSION Pat Richardson
recorded for The BAR-D Roundup; www.poetpatrichardson.com
17. THE NIGHT OL’ FLUKIE FOUNDERED DW Groethe
recorded for The BAR-D Roundup
18. WHEN BOB GOT THROWED (anonymous) Rex Rideout
recorded for The BAR-D Roundup; www.timetravelmusic.com
19. HE’LL DO (S. Omar Barker (1895-1985) Jim Thompson
recorded for The BAR-D Roundup; www.livewithjt.com
21. CHAPTER FOUR Buck Ramsey (1938-1998)
“Four” (track 6) from Buck Ramsey’s Grass: Commemorative Edition Recording, © 2005 Bette Ramsey. Reproduced by permission of Texas Tech University Press, 800-832-4042; www.ttup.ttu.edu
22. WHEN THE GRASS STILL HOLDS THE DEW Marty Blocker
from Call of the Wagon (2004); www.martyblocker.com
23. RAINY DAY PRAYER Jay Snider
from Of Horses and Men (2005); www.jaysnider.net
24. FILL ’EM UP TO OVERFLOWING Ken Cook
from Cowboys are Like That (2009); www.kencookcowboypoet.com
25. JEFF HART (Charles Badger Clark, Jr., (1883-1957) Hal Swift
recorded for The BAR-D Roundup
26. MICHAEL BIA Chris Isaacs
from Most Requested Poems (2001); www.chrisisaacs.com
27. NO SECOND CHANCE Waddie Mitchell
from Waddie Mitchell Live (1998) Waddie's Word Publishing, courtesy of Western Jubilee Recording Company; www.westernjubilee.com
28. GOODNIGHT TO THE TRAIL Doris Daley
from Beneath a Western Sky (2008); www.dorisdaley.com
SPECIAL CLASSIC RECORDING
29. Charles Badger Clark, Jr., 1883-1957 introduces and comments on "A Cowboy's Prayer"
30. A COWBOY’S PRAYER Charles Badger Clark, Jr.
both tracks from Dakota Voices (1956) courtesy of the Badger Clark Memorial Society; www.badgerclark.org
31. CENTER FOR WESTERN AND COWBOY POETRY RADIO PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT (PSA)
by Joe Baker, Backforty Bunkhouse Productions; www.backfortybunkhouse.com
All rights are reserved by the artists and owners of the included tracks.
The BAR-D Roundup is produced by the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, with generous funding support from sustaining donors.
Special thanks to Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Jessie Sundstrom and the Badger Clark Memorial Society, Bette Ramsey and Texas Tech University Press; Hal Cannon, Taki Telonidis and the Western Folklife Center; Western Jubilee Recording Company; Andrea Waitley; Jean Prescott, Diane Tribitt; Georgie Sicking, Dawn Smallman and Faraway Film; Susan Parker; Joe Baker; Jeri Dobrowski; Alf Bilton; Francie Ganje; Dallas and PJ McCord; Totsie Slover; Charley Engel; Andy Nelson, engineer and co-producer (with Margo Metegrano); and to all the poets, reciters, families, publishers, and organizations for poetry and permissions.
The BAR-D Roundup is dedicated to all those who proudly carry on the ranching tradition.
Order Information for The BAR-D Roundup
Volume Five (2010)
The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Five (2010) is available, postpaid, for a $10 donation, and is offered to new and renewing supporters of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry at the Partner level and above.
Proceeds from The BAR-D Roundup support the Center. CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the Center.
You can order by mail using the form here or send $10 (check or money order in U.S. funds) per copy to:
PO Box 1107
Lexington, VA 24450
Postage is included for the U.S. and Canada. Add $5 US for other countries.
You can also pay by a secure, on-line credit card payment (a Paypal account is not required) here.
Find order information for all CDs here, including special discount offers.
CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, Inc. a non-profit, tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Act. Contributions are fully deductible for federal income tax purposes. The BAR-D Roundup fair market value is $15 and no amount of the $20 donation for its postpaid delivery is tax deductible as a charitable contribution.
About the cover art for The BAR-D Roundup: Volume 5 (2010):
The BAR-D Roundup: Volume 5 (2010) CD cover art features a circa 1940 image of Georgie Sicking, cowboy, poet, and Cowgirl Hall of Fame inductee. The photo was taken at a "traveling show," on her first date with the man who was to become her husband.
The image was also used on the 2005 Ridin' & Rhymin', an award-winning documentary about Georgie Sicking by Greg Snider and Dawn Smallman of Far Away Films.
Inside the CD: Poet Diane Tribitt’s Minnesota ranch, heading out to the far south pasture to gather cattle in June, 2009. The day’s crew included Sam Scott, Diane Tribitt, her daughter (JoJo) and her cowboy (Jeremy), and two cowboying friends (Katie and Lloyd).
We welcome photo submissions for future editions of The BAR-D Roundup. Cover images will be vintage family cowboy and ranching photos, and inside, contemporary ranch family photos will be featured. Email us for information about sharing your family photos.
Listen to (and download) the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry Public Service Announcements
Each volume of The BAR-D Roundup includes an audio Public Service Announcement (PSA):
Listen to the 2010 30-second public service announcement from the CD by Joe Baker, radio host and proprietor of the Backforty Bunkhouse (www.backfortybunkhouse.com).
Listen to the 2009 30-second public service announcement from the CD by Baxter Black, top cowboy poet and philosopher (www.baxterblack.com).
Listen to the 2008 30-second public service announcement from the CD by Francie Ganje, radio host and director of South Dakota's Heritage of the American West show.
Listen to the 2007 30-second public service announcement from the CD and to an expanded 60-second version, both by poet, humorist, and radio host Andy Nelson.
Email us for audio clips for your broadcast or web site (or download them directly).
About The BAR-D Roundup: Volume 5 (2010) and Cowboy Poetry Week
SAN FRANCISCO—The ninth annual Cowboy Poetry Week (April 18-24, 2010) sponsored by the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry (www.CowboyPoetry.com), celebrates a venerable and popular folk form. Cowboy poetry records the voices of the working West, a tradition—stories of cowboys, ranchers, and Western writers—that spans three centuries. The Cowboy Poetry Week celebration includes many events taking place in communities, libraries, and elsewhere.
Center Director and CowboyPoetry.com managing editor Margo Metegrano comments, "Cowboy poetry preserves a history as it tells the stories of our working West. As importantly, it conveys compelling modern accounts of an endangered way of life to those who may have little information about this important segment of our population. Cowboy poets are great ambassadors from the rural world."
Inaugurated in 2002, Cowboy Poetry Week was officially recognized by unanimous resolution of the United States Senate. The celebration, with a special focus on rural libraries with its Rural Library Project, is held during the third week of April each year, in conjunction with National Poetry Month in the United States and Canada.
Twenty-two states' governors and other officials have issued Cowboy Poetry Week proclamations. Texas Governor Rick Perry has commented, "...cowboy poets have played a large part in preserving western heritage and culture through oral and written poetry. While history books inform us of the past, cowboy poetry has allowed us to truly experience the past. Through cowboy poetry, we have been allowed into the emotions and thoughts of those making history. We can feel the excitement, sympathize through hardships and hear their hopes and dreams. Cowboy poets have inspired and informed, bringing to their many fans education, art, and the best of our heritage and history." Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer has commented, "In the tradition of written and oral history, cowboy poets preserve our rich cultural history, opening the door for the generations to come to discover the heritage of the years past....we are proud of our numerous well-respected contemporary cowboy poets and look forward to the next generation of storytellers..."
"Born to This Land," a painting by premier Western artist Bill Owen (www.billowenca.com), was selected as this year's Cowboy Poetry Week poster art. The painting's title is from an outstanding poem by Red Steagall, past Texas Poet Laureate, singer, songwriter, radio and television host, and entertainer. Posters are sent to libraries as a part of the Center's Rural Library Project and are available to Center supporters
The BAR-D Roundup, the Center’s annual compilation recording of the best in classic and current cowboy poetry is also offered to libraries. Each edition includes vintage recordings of poets reciting their own works. This year includes vintage recordings by Charles Badger Clark Jr. (1883-1957) telling how he came to write "A Cowboy's Prayer," followed by his recitation of the still-popular work. The 2010 CD has a fifth annual selection from "Grass," a master work by the late Buck Ramsey, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, recognized as the modern spiritual leader of the genre. There is a track by the late Larry McWhorter, a respected cowboy and poet who died in 2003. Contemporary poets recite their works and classic poems, and among those on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume 5 are past Texas Poet Laureate Red Steagall, NEA Fellow Joel Nelson, Waddie Mitchell, Randy Rieman, Jerry Brooks, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Pat Richardson, Doris Daley, and others.
CowboyPoetry.com is a central resource for cowboy poetry and associated Western arts, a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. Cowboy poetry's enduring popularity is celebrated year round at CowboyPoetry.com, in a growing number of publications and recordings, and at hundreds of regional gatherings, most notably the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, which marked its 26th year in 2010.
Read more about Cowboy Poetry Week, including selected references and links and see news about poets' activities here.
How to submit a poem for consideration for future compilations
As co-producer Andy Nelson has quipped, we need a CD as big as a pizza to include all of the poems we'd like to include on the annual cowboy poetry compilation CD.
Selections are made by invitation, and from the CDs in our library. You are welcome to submit a CD or a track by mail for consideration. The receipt of such submissions will be acknowledged, but we regret that we don't have the resources to comment further on CDs or tracks. All CDs and tracks that are received are listened to and considered.
If you've submitted a CD previously and want to suggest a particular track for consideration, please email us with that information.
As always, we're looking for quality: well written poems, well recited, on a professional-quality recording. These CDs are a growing archive of the best contemporary and classic recitations. Their focus is the real working West.
Also, for this project, there are these considerations:
the track must be royalty-free for unrestricted radio play
you must own complete rights to any poetry and music on the track
poetry must be your original poetry or be in the public domain or be used with written permission (supplied to us) by the author, who must also be willing to permit reproduction of the track, without compensation or royalties
any background music must be your original music, or be in the public domain; we cannot include tracks with licensed music
The CD is offered to rural libraries, is distributed to radio stations for air play, is used as a premium for supporters of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, and is sold.
Those donating tracks receive copies of the recording. There is no additional payment and no royalties are paid.
We're continually considering selections for forthcoming annual compilation CDs.
Send submissions to: CowboyPoetry.com, PO Box 330444, San Francisco, CA 94133.
Please Support CowboyPoetry.com
Cowboy poetry is a vibrant folk form, enjoyed for over a hundred years by readers and listeners who appreciate the inspiration, history and humor embodied in its stories of the working West. Its enduring popularity is celebrated at CowboyPoetry.com, a central resource for cowboy poetry and associated Western arts, a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry.
The Center's Cowboy Poetry Week celebration—recognized by unanimous resolution by the U. S. Senate—is held each April during National Poetry Month. The BAR-D Roundup CD and the celebration's poster are offered to libraries through the Center's Rural Library Project, in fulfillment of the Center's mission to preserve and promote our Western heritage.
If you appreciate projects such as The BAR-D Roundup, please show your support.
Become a supporter, make a donation, perhaps in memory of someone who treasured our Western Heritage: Make a difference.
You can make a donation by check or money order, by mail (please use the form here for mail to PO Box 330444, San Francisco, CA 94133) or by a secure, on-line credit card payment through PayPal (a PayPal account is not required):
CowboyPoetry.com is a project of The Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, a tax-exempt non-profit organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Act. Contributions to the Center are fully deductible for federal income tax purposes.
Authors retain copyright to their work; obtain an author's
permission before using a poem in any form.
CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, Inc., a Federal and California tax-exempt non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization.