It is no secret among my friends and family that I am a cowgirl wannabe. I have an entire room in my house known and referred to as "The Cowboy Room."
"Where's Mommy?" my husband asks.
"In the cowboy room," my son Ben answers.
The room is decorated in all sorts of cowboy chotchkes, movie posters, and artwork. It has also now taken over the nearby bathroom, hallway, and mud room at the other end of the house.
Where this affinity for everything cowpoke comes from is hard to fathom since I spent my formative years in New Jersey. But I suspect it had a lot to do with countless hours spent watching Roy Rogers, Hoppalong Cassidy, and Gene Autry on TV in the 50's.
Writing and illustrating a book about my favorite topic, and doing it in BALLAD form, got me more curious to understand "Cowboy Poetry ," something I have been reading and hearing a lot about lately. That led me to this site: cowboypoetry.com. I soon discovered that there is a great wealth of information that I could spend days upon days getting to know. Here is a link to an article entitled "Learning the Pleasant Truth About Cowboy Poetry."
On this site are some cute pictures of kids participating in their own cowboy poetry slam, so to speak.
From what little I have gleaned from my very quick perusal of the poetry itself, I get the feeling that much of it is very accessible to many-which I think is a good thing, especially when you seek to engage children. Often it rhymes, and often there is a strong meter. But not always.
Here is an excerpt from a poem by Linda M. Hasselstrom. You can find the entire poem and a little bit about her here.
The words won't come right from my hands
in spring. The fields are full
of baby calves, tufts of hay, bawling cows.
My brain is full-but words won't come.
Sometimes when I'm in the truck,
leading heifers to spring grass, I find a stub
of pencil, tear a piece from a cake sack,
and make notes, listening to the curlews'
wolf whistle. A barb tore that knuckle,
when I shut a gate without my gloves. The blood
blister came when someone slammed a gate
on the branding table; I tore the fingernail
fixing a flat. The poems are in the scars,
and in what I will recall of all this, when
my hands are too battered to do it any more.
And I am certain that this is one book that will go into my next order:"Cowboy Poetry Matters: From Abilene to the Mainstream: Contemporary Cowboy Writing," edited by Robert McDowell. And another: "Crazy Woman Creek: Women Rewrite the American West," coedited by Nancy Curtis, Gaydell Collier, and Linda M. Hasslestrom.
I "do" the house. I've got my boots and a brand new hat. I am trying to learn about Cowboy Poetry. Can the horse be far behind?