Blog 56 Cowboy Poetry Week

“A Life Less Ordinary” by Gary Morton. Used by permission.

15th Annual Cowboy Poetry Week

April 17-23, 2016


Cowboy Poetry Week, a celebration within National Poetry Month, starts this Sunday!


To celebrate, I’m posting interviews with four cowboy poets, each with a different tale to tell. Last week’s featured guest was Lynn Kopelke; those to come are Doris Daley, Clark Crouch and Janice Gilbertson. These poets and hundreds of others have something special in common: a deep appreciation for Margo Metegrano and


The Internet might seem a strange meeting-place for folks who (literally or metaphorically) ride the range, but the abundance of cowboy poetry news and events requires a round-up from time to time. Margo Metegrano is a top-notch wrangler of western tales told with rhyme and meter, as well as breaking developments in the world of cowboy poetry. initiated Cowboy Poetry Week, now in its 15th year. In April 2003 the United States Senate passed a resolution, with unanimous approval (a miracle in today’s world), recognizing the celebration. Governors of many states issue official proclamations in honor of “the week.” Events happen across the West and beyond. You can learn more about Cowboy Poetry Week here:


One of my favorite activities sponsored by is the Art Spur. Poets are invited to “spur” their imagination by writing poems in response to a painting or photograph posted at the website. Poems selected for the April 2016 Art Spur will be posted at in the coming week. The current Art Spur image, “A Life Less Ordinary” by New Mexico cowboy and artist Gary Morton, is the image for this week’s blog and is featured on the 2016 Cowboy Poetry Week poster.


You might wonder why someone who writes fantasy novels set in modern-day Seattle has such an interest in cowboy poetry. Truth told, I’ve spent a lot of time with cowboy poets in my past incarnation as Cimarron Sue (of western music duo Nevada Slim & Cimarron Sue). For more than a decade I admired the skill of cowboy poetry writers and reciters while sharing onstage and backstage time. In many happy cases, this resulted in ongoing friendships and I’ve tried my hand at a cowboy poem or two. Here’s one I’d like to share from a past Art Spur, inspired by Elizabeth Zimmerman’s watercolor painting “Cowboy Cadence.” You can see the painting here:


A Brief History of the Appaloosa in the West


When Spaniards stormed the New World’s keep,

in hulls of ships through ocean deep

our hooves danced.


When caught and bred by Nez Perce tribe

for color, pattern, strength and pride

our hooves danced.


When captured in the Cayuse raids

or bartered through more honest trade

our hooves danced.


When Cayuse fell, reservation penned,

and Nez Perce, too, came to bitter end

the Army seized us. Some were sold

others slaughtered. Escaped, the bold

went wild.

Our hooves danced.


Man reclaimed us from the range—

fed us, worked us —not much change

from the New World now called West.

Pressed in modern horsemen’s quests

our hooves still dance.



(© 2014, S. D. Matley; This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author’s written permission.)


Thank you, and enjoy your week!

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