Honored Guest

Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski, Elko 2007


About Randy Rieman
"Leaving Camp"

Contacting Randy Rieman

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About Randy Rieman

Master reciter Randy Rieman has performed at every one of the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gatherings since 1986 (the second gathering) and has served on the gathering's Steering Committee. He's been a featured performer at events across the West, including the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering in Prescott, Arizona; the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering at Alpine, Texas; California's Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival, and many other gatherings.  He provided the following information.

Randy has made his living as a working cowboy and a horse trainer for the last 30 years. He started his cowboy career in Montana, and then moved to Nevada and California, spending several years working in each state. In 1994, he went to work for the Parker Ranch on the big island of Hawaii and spent the next nine years there starting colts and training stock horses.

Randy comments on his involvement with cowboy poetry:

Cowboy poetry literally changed my life. I have met some of my closest friends, traveled to places I would not have visited and had experiences that I would not have had if I hadn't been involved with cowboy poetry. For example, in 1995, I took part in a trip to the United Kingdom to do a fifteen-city tour of cowboy poetry in celebration of their "Year of Literature."

I have been reciting cowboy poetry (in public) since the second gathering in Elko in 1986. I love the classics, and if I have a "specialty," I guess it would be keeping those traditional, classic cowboy poems in front of today's audiences. I like lots of different styles of poetry—rhymed and metered or free verse, ancient or contemporary— and some of my favorite poems are from outside the "cowboy corral." I love lots of different literature, and my taste in music is as eclectic as my taste in the written word.

Poetry is, I believe, the most personal form of written expression we humans have available to us. Whether we wrote the piece, or just found that we identify with the message a particular poem conveys, it becomes personal in a way that's unique to poetry.

I consider myself a reciter and not an entertainer, or a poet.  I do hope my recitations are entertaining and my goal is to deliver them as  skillfully as possible. I feel that I am the messenger, not the message. My job is to deliver the poem in a manner worthy of the piece and to convey through the spoken words the way the piece feels to me on the inside. I try to visualize the story while I'm reciting—It's a  real privilege to share these great writers' works with an audience. I am hopeful that the authors would approve of my efforts.

I recently had the privilege of judging the Montana state championship round of a poetry competition called Poetry Out Loud, which is a joint effort by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. Twenty high school students recited three rounds of poems and it was fabulous. The winner goes on to the National Finals in Washington, D.C., and the winners receive cash awards, used to buy poetry books for the winners' schools. This nationwide contest is designed to give young people a love for the spoken word, and build their speaking skills in a public setting.



Leaving Camp

Spring's a distant memory now
The green grass turned to brown
The scattered leaves of aspen trees
Blow golden 'cross the ground

The larkspur and the lupine
Are faded out and gone
And ice has formed along the banks
Down at the beaver ponds

An early autumn snowfall
Has whitewashed distant peaks
And the cattle sensing winter
Leave the high ground in retreat

The snow will melt 'neath autumn's sun
Before it comes to stay
By the warnings made and heeded
We know winter's on its way

The circling of the sandhill cranes
Reminds us that it's time
To be moving off of summer range
And leaving camp behind

The season's nearly finished
Like the cranes, the time flies by
We'll soon be rollin' up our beds
And shaking hands good-bye

So we linger on the ridges
In the sunset's parting rays
We walk and talk instead of trot
And try to stretch the days

These autumn days we cherish
While our youth is on display
They're the ones we know we'll long for
When we're burdened down with age

There's more than nature's beauty
I hate to leave behind
It's this man who mile after mile
Has ridden by my side

From the cold gray light of morning
'Til the long day's twilight end
A good and faithful partner
And a trusted lifelong friend

With a handshake and a few brief words
We'll wish each other well
Then both go our separate ways
To face the winter's chill

But leaving camp ain't easy
When it's shared with such a friend
The kind you've been to me, Todd
Hope we'll share camp soon, again.

Vaya con Dios, amigo

© 1987, Randy Rieman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.

Randy Rieman comments:  Todd was my riding partner on The West Fork Stock Association, a forest grazing permit on the West Fork of the Madison River in southwest Montana.  We rode together for two seasons, from May through October, then guided elk hunters till December. They were good years and I think of Todd often.




Old Favorites


An Old Western Town, Bruce Kiskaddon
Boomer Johnson, Henry Herbert Knibbs
      The Married Man, Charles Badger Clark
Jack Potter's Courtin', S. Omar Barker
Lasca, Frank Desprez
Ridin', Charles Badger Clark
The Creak of the Leather, Bruce Kiskaddon
Leaving Camp, Randy Rieman
The High-toned Dance, James Barton Adams
When They've Finished Shipping Cattle in the Fall, Bruce Kiskaddon
Pert Near, S. Omar Barker

Available for $20 postpaid from:

Randy Rieman
P.O. Box 270
Dillon, MT  59725 




Where the Ponies Come to Drink


Looking Back, Bruce Kiskaddon
Where the Ponies Come to Drink, Henry Herbert Knibbs
In the Droving Days, A. B. "Banjo" Paterson
It Might Have Been Me, Bruce Kiskaddon
     When You're Throwed, Bruce Kiskaddon
No Rest for the Horse, anonymous
Bronco Twister's Prayer, Bruce Kiskaddon
The Legend of Boastful Bill, Charles Badger Clark
The Riding of the Rebel, Will Ogilvie
The Gee Bung Polo Club, A. B. "Banjo" Paterson
 Horses vs Hosses, S. Omar Barker
The Pearl of Them All, Will Ogilvie
 Hooves of the Horses, Will Ogilvie

 Available for $20 postpaid from:

Randy Rieman
P.O. Box 270
Dillon, MT  59725 







Randy Rieman's recitations can be found on compilation recordings, including:

   "When They've Finished Shipping Cattle in the Fall," by Bruce Kiskaddon on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Two, produced by CowboyPoetry.com, 2007

  "Where the Ponies Come to Drink" by Henry Herbert Knibbs on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Three, produced by CowboyPoetry.com, 2008

   "An Old Western Town," by Bruce Kiskaddon, on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Four, produced by CowboyPoetry.com.

  "Hooves of the Horses" by Will Ogilvie on Elko! A Cowboy's Gathering, produced by Waddie Mitchell, from Western Jubilee Recording, 2004

   "Boomer Johnson," by Henry Herbert Knibbs on Cowboy Poetry Classics, compiled, produced, and annotated by David Stanley, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2003

  "Lasca" by Frank Desprez on The Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Rhino, 1994



Randy Rieman's poetry can be found in anthologies, including:

Click to view at Amazon.com  Home on the Range, Cowboy Poetry, selected by Paul B. Janeczko, 1997

"A Rare Find"

  Ten Years' Gatherings; Montana Poems and Stories, edited by Gwen Petersen, Sandy Seaton, Afton Bloxham, and Betty Lynne McCarthy, 1995

"A Rare Find"
"Leaving Camp"

Click to view at Amazon.com   New Cowboy Poetry: A Contemporary Gathering, edited by Hal Cannon, 1985

"A Rare Find"


   Read more about Randy Rieman at the Western Folklife Center web site in their feature, Tools of the Trade; Rawhide and Leather Braiding Artists.


Contacting Randy Rieman


Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski, Elko 2007


Randy Rieman
P.O. Box 270
Dillon, MT  59725 



Randy Rieman Horsemanship web site: www.pioneermountainranchhorses.com





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