If I remember correctly, it was during the summer of 1940 when I was eleven years old that I first met Badger Clark. I had won an expense-paid trip to a conservation camp at Seward, Nebraska in a contest sponsored by the Federal Arms Corporation. My winning entry was an essay about some doves nesting beneath sagebrush right on the ground. Although I was working on my brother-in-law’s ranch that summer, he gave me a week off to attend the camp.
Badger was the featured guest and it was downright pleasant to sit and talk with him. A lot of the young folks had other interests, after all it was a coed camp. Unfortunately, I was a bit young and wasn’t yet inclined to chase around after the girls, so I had some quality time talking to the Badger in between his appearances to read his poems to us. And read them he did…book in hand and not relying on his memory, he presented his poetry.
There’s a lot to be said for the creative aspects of writing poetry. It is mentally stimulating, particularly when you’re involved in expressing your exact feelings within the constraints of traditional poetic forms with true rhymes.
Beyond that, however, lies another extremely rewarding aspect of being a poet. And that is mentoring others who wish to be able to express themselves through the creation of their own poetry. Over the past twelve years, we’ve mentored quite a few folks ranging in age from twelve to the mid seventies. It has been tremendously rewarding and fulfilling to witness their success.
One venue for both experienced and beginning poets has been our own website. From that site, ninety-one poems authored by sixteen poets from across the U.S. were published in a book, Western Viewpoints, last year. The book is available through local and internet booksellers around the world. It is possible that another volume might be published in the not-too-distant future as our website now contains seventy-eight poems by fifteen poets, almost enough for a reasonably sized book!
Our requirements are not terribly complex:
western, or cowboy theme in modern or historic setting,
traditional poetic form, not blank or free verse,
true rhymes such as love/dove (but not love/glove or love/over), and
shorter poems (equivalent of twelve or fewer, 4-line stanzas) are preferred.
So, if you are an experienced or published poet, you might consider the rewards of mentoring others in this uniquely American literary form. And, if you are not a poet but you’d like to try your hand at writing some western or cowboy verses, do it and send it along for consideration. Limited mentoring is usually available if desired.
This poem , “Goose Creek,” which was an award winner in a juried competition sponsored by the Allied Arts of the Yakima Valley in 2007, has just been published in a new regional anthology, Twentieth: Selected Yakima Coffeehouse Poems. The book is a collection of poems which won awards in Allied Arts competitions over a period of 19 years. The poem was first published in Thirteenth, a chapbook published by Allied Arts in 2007, and also appears in Western Images released by Western Poetry Publications that same year.
The creek meanders listlessly
amidst the hills of sand…
a shallow, slender thread of life
feedin’ the fragile land.
It brings water to our cattle
and makes the meadows green
with grasses as tall as a man
as far as can be seen.
Willow branches droop o’er the stream,
shadin’ the water’s flow,
creatin’ quiet, cool retreats
where man is wont to go.
This little creek flows steadily
as seasons rise and wane,
grandly fulfillin’ its purpose,
in this prairie domain.