In a Sow’s Ear 8-24-09
Cowboy Poetry Gatherings: On-going annual events in the mountain western states, in California, Oregon, Washington (I hear New York and Florida are fielding a gathering or two) and Canada has an abundance in their provinces.
Attending a gathering means you can count on many things such as:
• You won’t be bored.
• You won’t see tattoos.
• You won’t see hardware hanging off various body parts like ticks on a dog.
• You won’t see scruffy denims cinched just above the wearer’s crack.
• You won’t hear the “eff” word shouted, muttered and uttered every whipstitch.
• You will see rear pants pockets or shirt pockets with outlines of snuff cans showing.
• You will see western shirts tucked tidily into Wrangler jeans.
• You will see a plethora of mustaches and beards adorning a plethora of cowboy upper lips and chins.
• You will see countless tall, wide-brimmed western hats (which lend short cowboys height and cause tall ones to duck when going through doors).
• At the dance you will see couples two-stepping around the floor while three guitars, a bass, a fiddle and a dobro play “Tiny Bubbles,” “Mocking Bird Hill” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart.”
• From the cowboy poets’ points of view, you will hear poems galore, firstly – those involving favorite horses and dogs, especially if they’ve passed on to that big corral in the sky; secondly – sagas and epics about riding the draws, ridges, and trails; and thirdly – tender or tetchy verses about girl friends and wives.
• From the cowgirl poets’ points of view, you will also hear poems galore, very often hilarious tales referencing that astounding creature known as cowboy.
• You will, as a female, have doors opened for you, heavy stuff carried for you and drinks bought for you.
• In the after-burner hours in the pub, you’ll hear big windies about horses, dogs, crops and how things they are a-changing.
This year, Montana held its 24th gathering – the second gathering (we’re proud to say) to be established after that first National in Elko, Nev. Montana’s began in August 1986 in Big Timber, Mont., and moved (when Big Timber ran out of space) to Lewistown five years later.
The Gathering wants to pass on those qualities of respect, courtesy and cowboy values to succeeding generations. With that in mind, Lewistown organizers (Lewistown Arts Council) are working on encouraging school kids to learn how to write cowboy poetry.
“Spurrin’ the Words” is a how-to volume for both teachers and students in the art of how to create rhyme and meter. Put together by Kirk Astroth of 4-H Department, and the University of Montana in Bozeman, the book is a gem complete with a CD wherein various poets recite their work.
Perhaps you’re thinking I’m babbling on? Well, I am. And that’s because next year, young poets will be invited to submit their poems and to read them at the Gathering. Watch this space as plans firm up … especially if you know or are harboring a green-broke poetry-prone kid.