FEATURING: Maria Lisa Eastman, Dick Gibford, DW Groethe, Brenn Hill, Joel Nelson.
A cowboy's life is all about critters. Four-legged, six-legged, even eight-legged (for all your arachnophobes out there) and they're all out to get ya and show you who's really in charge. Ride along with us as poets Dick Gibford, Joel Nelson, Maria Lisa Eastman, DW Groethe, Paul Zarzyski and musician Brenn Hill try to explain for you just why this is so.
Hosted by DW Groethe.
From the 35th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.
"Rodeo Sweetheart" - DW Groethe
"Critters" - Dick Gibford
"You Can Lead a Horse to Water, but You Can't Make him Drink" - Maria Lisa Eastman
"Muddy Creek" - Brenn Hill
"To Comrades of Camp-Fire and Muster" - Joel Nelson (poem by William Henry Ogilvie)
"The Whale in My Wallet" - Paul Zarzyski
"A Thundering Herds" - DW Groethe
"Sun Up" - Dick Gibford
"The Chosen Life" - Dick Gibford
"Field Guide for a Place" - Maria Lisa Eastman
"Black Joe" - Brenn Hill
"A Trailside Boulder Story" - Joel Nelson
"Bizarski -- Mad Bard and Carpenter Savant of Manchester, Montana -- Feeds the Finicky Birds" - Paul Zarzyski
"Thig's Pig" - DW Groethe
"One Morning at the Gate's of Eternity" - DW Groethe
"The Vanishing Life" - Dick Gibford
"Thirsty Cows" - Maria Lisa Eastman
"Buffalo Beard" - Brenn Hill
"The Layers" - Joel Nelson (poem by Stanley Kunitz)
"Zeke Zarzyski Beckons his Master to Fetch" - Paul Zarzyski
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Maria Lisa Eastman
Maria Lisa Eastman hails from the village of Hyattville, pop. 100. She and her husband operate the Oxbow Ranch, a sometimes-for-profit hay and cattle outfit, and Rainhorse Equine Assisted Services, a nonprofit that rehabilitates unfortunate horses to help people who have had troubles themselves. Some time ago, while riding a colt out in the New Mexico foothills, she asked him which grasses he liked best. She was so intrigued by his answer that she earned a master’s degree in range and watershed management. Maria worked for many years in rangeland studies, plant inventory, mine reclamation, and grazing management planning. As she says, "Turns out there are actually people who get paid to count grass." She penned the poetry collection Regarding the Others (2018) and edited the compilation A Gathering of Voices–Poems and Stories from the Wyoming Retirement Center (2022).
New Cuyama, CA
Dick Gibford was raised on a small cow outfit on the central coast of California and, at age 13, began starting two-year-old colts for his dad. Upon graduation from high school in 1968, Dick left for Tuscarora, Nevada, where he rode for Willis Packer as a “rep” on the 25 Wagon. He has been influenced in every facet of his life by that first experience as a “sagebrush buckaroo.” These days, he cowboys out of an isolated cow camp for the Walking R Ranch in Maricopa, California. He also makes slick fork saddles, braids rawhide, paints, and starts an occasional colt. In 2013, Dick released Trail Dust, a limited-edition, hand-bound book of poetry and real-life stories about his packing experiences.
DW Groethe is the son of a son of pioneers. He was born and raised in the west of Dakota and has lived the past 25-plus years across the border in Montana. It is the same land...same folks...same weather...same heartbeat. The lyrics may change but the rhythm stays true. He is a ranch hand, he is a poet, he is a songster. His songs and his poems sing of who he is and where he comes from. When you’re in Elko, feel free to stop DW any old time and ask him whatever needs asking. Coffee's on him.
Brenn Hill is a singer-songwriter who doesn't just sing about the West, he reveals its heart to anyone who will take the time to listen. He is not only an observer or narrator of Western lore, but one of its strongest interpreters. The cowboy's trials and tribulations are his raw material. Brenn's career spans 12 recordings of mostly self-penned music and more than two decades on the road. His most recent release is "How You Heal." Like all of his prior recordings, it serves as a pathway through his own personal journey. Brenn is an artist who gives great insight into the West he calls Heaven. He lives with his wife and three children in Hooper, Utah.
Joel Nelson has been a cowboy since age six when he helped on a cattle drive to the railroad. For more than 30 years, Joel made his living working on cow outfits in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Hawaii, specializing in breaking colts. He holds a bachelor's degree in Forestry and Range Management, has built custom saddles, and served in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division. He is a founder of the Texas Cowboy Gathering in Alpine, Texas, and a 2009 recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts' Heritage Fellowship. Joel's poem "Equus Caballus" was selected to be part of the national Poetry Outloud program for high school students. He and his wife Sylvia run Corriente cattle in the beautiful West Texas ranch country.
Great Falls, MT
Paul Zarzyski, veteran of 34 consecutive Gatherings and the recipient of the Montana Governor's Arts Award for Literature, has written poetry for two-thirds of his lifetime. Even before his short 15 year stint as a rodeo bareback bronc rider, he wrote, unbeknownst to him at the time, Rodeo Poetry; his approach to the page has always been to "take that extra tuck and let the poetry buck." Along with his ten books and six spoken-word CDs, Paul, thanks to Ian Tyson's encouragement in the early Elko years, has co-written numerous songs. His latest book and companion double-CD are both titles "Steering With My Knees" -- which Paul deems "the definitive metaphorical image of living a wild-West life as a wild writer writing/riding wildly into the far-out wilds of the Cowpoke Cosmos mind."
Filmed in front of a live audience at the Elko Convention Center’s Laurena Moren Theater on Feb. 1, 2019.
Made possible by the multitude of staff, artists, volunteers, and community members working behind the scenes to make this show happen.
Brought to you by the Western Folklife Center, using story and cultural expression to connect the American West to the world.