Archives for category: Cowboy Poetry

The One Page Poetry Circle met on October 9 to discuss Cowboy Poetry. Cowboy Poetry developed as an oral tradition when cowboys sat around the campfire at night and entertained each other with songs. Few songs written at the time remain, and the poetry we found often reflected on cowboy life of the past or celebrated ranch life today. What we found may not have been our favorite poems of all time, but we managed to find good ones and had fun talking cowboy lingo and reminiscing about westerns in the movies and on tv.

Abigail opened the circle by reading “What Would Martha Do?” by Yvonne Hollenbeck who compares her activities as an active cowgirl with Martha Stewart: “I wonder if she’d fair so well if she lived on a ranch;/And what she’d use to get manure off of boots and pants./And when she’s plumb exhausted and she has to feed a crew,/I sometimes stop and wonder: ‘What would Martha do?’”

Roger, inspired by the mellifluous voice of Johnny Cash, read the anonymous ballad, “The Streets of Loredo”: “We beat the drum slowly and played the fife lowly,/And bitterly wept as we bore him along./For we loved our comrade, so brave, young and handsome,/We all loved our comrade, although he’d done wrong.”

Hazel read “The Cowboy” by John Antrobus picturing the majesty of the cowboy: “Ruddy and brown—careless and free—/A king in the saddle—he rides at will/O’er the measureless range where rarely change/The swart gray plans so weird and strange,/Treeless, and streamless, and wondrous still!”

Gail read Julian Mitchell’s “Lament for the Cowboy Life” which featured companionship and hardship, “Where the trails met, our herds met, too,/And mingled on their lowing way to slaughter./Spying ahead, the sky a parching blue,/We tortured valleys for their news of water.”

Terry read “The Time to Decide” by Bruce Kiskaddon concerning the importance of perspective when making a decision, “While the things that were always nearer,/The things that you thought were small;/Seemed to stand out grander and clearer./As you looked from the mountain wall.”

AnnaLee closed the circle with Elizabeth Ebert’s “True Grit” in which a man replicates John Wayne’s portrayal of Rooster Cogburn, “Now there’s a marshall who wasn’t yellow,/With his reins in his teeth and his guns in his hand/He rode right into that outlaw band./He was old like me, and tired and fat./I wish I could make one ride like that!”

June suggested this poem, “The Cows at Night” by Hayden Carruth in which the speaker admires a pasture of “the cows. Always a shock/to remember them there, those great breathings close in the dark.” Cate couldn’t attend but had chosen “Mud” by Amy Hale Auker, “Give me light,/flickering non-electric intimate,/creating a circle of us.” Although we didn’t have a campfire, we enjoyed the intimacy of our poetry circle!

Fall 2018 Schedule
Tuesday, November 13, Poetry and Simplicity
Tuesday, December 11, Poetry and Wine

Abigail Burnham Bloom and AnnaLee Wilson

The One Page Poetry Circle is sponsored by the New York Public Library and is open to all. St. Agnes Branch Library is handicap accessible.

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Welcome to the One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes Branch Library!
Cowboy poetry (October’s theme) originated with ad-libbed poems and lyrics about ranch life and what it meant to drive cattle across the country. Many of us grew up in the 50s with singing cowboys and cowgirls like Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, and Burl Ives who serenaded us through our TVs and radios. The tradition of exploring the cowboy life through poetry is very much alive today. While researching Cowboy poetry, we discovered Everything in this Song Is True (2018) on Amazon Prime, a film about modern cowboys who write poetry. There are also websites devoted to cowboy poetry.

Here’s an excerpt from “Homestead” by cowboy poet LaVerna Johnson, performed at a recent Durango Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering:

We hear calls of cattle lowing, voices carry on the breeze
As it wanders down the canyon, then meanders through the trees.
While we stop to smell the sage, light shimmers “quakie’s” golden leave,
And it sure feels good to be back home again.

One of the most famous traditional cowboy poems, the “Cowboy’s Lament,” tells the tale of one cowboy related by another:

As I walked out in the streets of Laredo
As I walked out in Laredo one day,
I spied a poor cowboy, all wrapped in white linen
All wrapped in white linen and cold as the clay.

We’d love to hear from you. Just click the speech balloon next to the title of this blog post to put up your favorite Cowboy poem or add to the discussion. For inspiration browse the poetry section at your branch library or check out these and other online resources, Poetry Foundation or poets.org.

Fall 2018 Schedule
Tuesday, October 9, Cowboy Poetry
Tuesday, November 13, Poetry and Simplicity
Tuesday, December 11, Poetry and Wine  

Time: 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Ave. (81st, 3rd Fl.) 

Abigail Burnham Bloom and
AnnaLee Wilson

The One Page Poetry Circle is sponsored by the New York Public Library and is open to all. St. Agnes Branch Library is handicap accessible.