Cowboy Poetry Week: April 19-25, 2009
Rural librarians across the West are hanging a poster featuring vibrant artwork by noted Western artist Bob Coronato and busting the shrink wrap off The BAR-D Roundup, Vol. 4. The poster and CD are made available at no cost to participating libraries by the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. The Center sponsors Cowboy Poetry Week and CowboyPoetry.com.
Cowboy Poetry Week is celebrated during April – designated as National Poetry Month in the U.S. and Canada. This year marks the eighth annual celebration of Cowboy Poetry Week. It runs April 19-25, 2009. The United States Senate passed a resolution recognizing the celebration in 2003. Since then, it has been recognized by 21 states’ governors and other officials. A variety of festivities take place in communities across the West and beyond.
Through the outreach of the Rural Library Project, even the smallest communities in the rural West can experience the folklore and tradition associated with cowboy poetry. Each year, an exciting new CD is offered to libraries, along with a Cowboy Poetry Week poster. Some libraries host events and exhibits to celebrate: http://www.cowboypoetry.com/week2009.htm#Events.
This year’s official poster (http://www.cowboypoetry.com/bobcoronato.htm) features artwork by Bob Coronato, courtesy The Greenwich Workshop, Inc. An East Coast native, Coronato now divides his time between Hulett, Wyoming (near Devils Tower), and Atascadero, California. His works are often set in southeast Montana and northeast Wyoming. An astute observer, Coronato gets the details right, as evidenced by the title of the painting: “The Horse Wrangler Gather’d The Morning Mounts: ‘One That Had’n Lived The Life … Couldn’t Paint a Picture …To Please The Eye, of One That Had!'”
This year’s 26-track, fourth-edition BAR-D Roundup combines classic and contemporary cowboy poetry from a Westerner’s viewpoint. Like Coronado, the poets and authors represented on the album “get it right.” Joel Nelson, one of the genre’s most respected contemporary poets, opens with “The Men Who Ride No More.” There’s also the epic “The Red Cow” by the late Larry McWhorter, and “Tracks that Won’t Blow Out” by the late Ray Owens.
Classics by Bruce Kiskaddon and Henry Herbert Knibbs are recited by Randy Rieman and Jerry Brooks. Dick Morton offers the traditional “The Cattleman’s Prayer,” and the late JB Allen does “Roundup in the Spring.” Jesse Smith recites the melancholy “The Black Beauty.” There is a fourth annual selection from Grass, by the late Buck Ramsey, the recognized spiritual leader of cowboy poetry.
The viewpoints expressed are not just from men. On the contrary, there’s a refreshing abundance of women’s’ perspectives: “The Cows Came First” by Jane Morton; “Housewife” by Georgie Sicking; “A Plain Ol’ Housewife” by Yvonne Hollenbeck; “Average Girl” by Doris Daley; “Ida’s Bread” by Jo Lynne Kirkwood, and “Half the Hand” by Diane Tribitt. Even Rodney Nelson’s crowd-pleasing favorite, “Cowboy Laundry,” gives voice to a cowboy’s wife.
The adorable lad pictured on the album cover is Gail Gardner. Reproduced from an 1890’s tintype, it hints at the vintage recording of Gardner (1892-1988) reciting/singing his famous work, “The Sierry Petes (Tying Knots in the Devil’s Tail).” Gardner’s grandson Gail Steiger recites another of his grandfather’s works, “The Dude Wrangler.”
Other poets serving up contemporary and classic poems on the Vol. 4 include Allen Clark, Ken Cook, Elizabeth Ebert, DW Groethe, Linda Kirkpatrick, Slim McNaught, Rod Miller, Pat Richardson, Jay Snider, and Andy Nelson. Nelson, a Wyoming poet, humorist, emcee and radio host, co-produced the project. Baxter Black sticks a fork in the project and calls it “done” with a radio public service announcement, written and delivered as only he can.
Continuing a tradition of excellence established with The Bar-D Roundup Vol. 1-2-3, this latest release is a must-have for those who savor cowboy poetry.
Look for The BAR-D Roundup, Vol. 4, at your rural Western library. To purchase your own copy, send $20 to CowboyPoetry.com, PO Box 330444, San Francisco, CA 94133. Previous years’ releases are available. Purchase Vol. 3 and 4 together for $35; Vol. 2, 3, & 4 for $50. (U.S. and Canadian postage included. Add $5 for all other addresses.) Pay by a secure, on-line credit card at http://www.cowboypoetry.com/cd.htm. Proceeds support the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry.
Posters are not available for purchase. They are offered to libraries and to supporters of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. Become a supporter at http://www.cowboypoetry.com/donors.htm#joinus.