Cowboy Jam Session: Keeping the herd together
May 28, 2012
Last month, I highlighted The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Seven (2012), a compilation of cowboy poetry recordings produced by the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, Inc. (www.cowboypoetry.com). I had hoped to mention books by two of the artists but ran short on space. I thought I’d pick up where I left off, in essence, keeping the herd together.
A photo of Montana ranch hand, DW Groethe appears on the album, a nod to today’s working cowboy. He recites “Over Yonder,” which speaks of “a diff’ernt sorta breed – them that take to horse an’ saddle – restless souls that’re mighty prone to wander.”
Groethe, a favorite at cowboy and Western gatherings across the country, has produced two chapbooks since the release of his critically acclaimed hardback, West River Waltz, published in 2006. The most recent, The Night Ol’Flukie Foundered, contains 25 poems, including the aforementioned “Over Yonder.” As might be expected, it also includes “The Night Ol’ Flukie Foundered,” plus “The Ballad of Murphy’s Outhouse,” two romps that have been known to leave some listeners queasy and unsettled.
Proving his mastery of the silly, as well as the sublime, Groethe counters with “Star Cavvy,” a cowboy’s stroll through celestial pastures; “Lilacs, Rhubarb, Horseradish,” about the vestiges of Plains’ homesteads; and the introspective “When There’s Frost Upon the Ponies.” There are also two of his Christmas poems, written and distributed annually to those lucky enough to be on his “nice” list. (Read “Over Yonder,” “The Night Ol’ Flukie Foundered,” and “When There’s Frost Upon the Ponies” at http://www.cowboypoetry.com/dwgroethe.htm.)
The Night Ol’ Flukie Foundered is $15 postpaid from DW Groethe, PO Box 144, Bainville, MT 59212; (406) 769-2312.
Fifth-generation California rancher John Dofflemyer recites “Our Time” on the seventh BAR-D Roundup. The piece appears in Proclaiming Space, his thirteenth collection of poetry, published in 2012. Dofflemyer began writing poetry in high school, attended the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, NV, for the first time in 1989, and was awarded a Wrangler from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City for Poems from Dry Creek in 2009. (For more: http://www.cowboypoetry.com/johndofflemyer.htm)
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Dofflemyer carries on a family tradition: harvesting grass from the Sierra Nevada foothills with cattle. His poetry captures contemporary ranch issues, some mundane, some milestones. Since 2005, he and his wife, Robbin, have maintained Dry Crik Journal: Perspectives from the Ranch, a blog that features poetry, prose, and photography (http://drycrikjournal.wordpress.com). John says his writing “has evolved into a pleasant habit that helps me sort and incorporate all the odd and wonderful realities of this uncertain way of life.”
While the flora and fauna in John and Robbin’s world are often foreign to my Montana eyes and ears, I am nonetheless appreciative of this glimpse into their world. I’ve a new appreciation for John’s free verse poetry, his inherent connection to land, his keen eye, and willingness to share his innermost thoughts.
Contained within Proclaiming Space, “Docs No Sox 1666851” is a tribute to a beloved equine partner, buried beneath a lone oak tree. “Waiting for Daylight” recounts an anxious night before the all-important branding day. “Sideshow” is timely in its hope that political candidates are genuinely interested in the duties of the office.
Proclaiming Space sells for $17.50 (cash or check) from John Dofflemyer, Dry Crik Press, PO Box 44320, Lemon Cove, CA 93244-0320. (NOTE: Orders received by June 15, 2012 are only $12.50.)
While I’m tending to details, I want to mention an album by the late Doc Stovall. Doc sent me a copy of The Place Where I Worship not long before his untimely death in March. The professionally produced 14-track CD contains a refreshing selection of gospel favorites and less-familiar, cowboy-themed offerings, including my favorites, “Fingerprints of God,” “From the Rim of the Canyon,” “Reins of Glory,” “The Place Where I Worship/The Cowboy’s Prayer,” and “When the Roundup’s Over.” (For a complete listing, see: http://www.cowboypoetry.com/docstoval.htm) Besides being just plain good listening, it would be excellent for cowboy church.
Doc made his home near Cartersville, GA, where he was the entertainment and sponsorship manager at the Booth Western Art Museum (www.boothmuseum.org/). It was in this capacity that I came to know him. Doc once worked and toured with Ray Price. This experience served him well at the Booth, where he organized the Southeastern Cowboy Festival & Symposium and developed the Georgia Youth Cowboy Poetry Contest into a statewide activity.
To purchase The Place Where I Worship, send $18 (cash or check) to Margaret Stovall, 4396 Bluebird Lane, Lithia, GA 30122.