The 9th Annual Mesquite Western Roundup sponsored by the Mesquite Arts Council held at the Mesquite Community Theatre on February 20 and 21 was a huge success as Cowboy Poets and guests were able to wrangle up a full house both days and educate the large audiences on the hard but often humorous life of cowboys.
Cowboy Poets Ken Marshall, Mike Prince, Marc Bradshaw, Russ Westwood and Hap Stuart all under the leadership of Trail Bosses Lee Kimberlin and Marlene Bussma illuminated the audiences with humorous and perhaps exaggerated but true tales of the occupational life of a cattle rancher.
Cowboy poetry is a form of poetry which originated and grew out of a tradition of reciting impromptu stories which were carried on by workers on cattle drives and ranches.
After a day of work, cowboys would gather around the campfire and entertain one another with tall tales and folk songs. Illiteracy was common among ranch hands, so poetic forms were used to aid in memory.
According to Warren Miller, Education Director of Sharlot Hall Museum and founder of the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering “Despite the proliferation of printed cowboy poetry, it is still essentially a spoken art form. It is continuous with other preliterate traditions stretching back to the ballad singer as oral historian and conveyer of news. The poetic form of cowboy verse has traditionally been basic–regular meter and simple rhyme scheme, a structure that facilitates memorization and gives a formal aspect to recitation without getting in the way of the story line.”
Today many of the cowboy poetry comes from rancher’s wives, ranch owners, rodeo cowboys, and folks that hold down a 9 to 5 job but raise cattle on the side and even some who have a deep love for but only aspire to the cowboy lifestyle and just enjoy the art form.
This past week at the 9th Annual Mesquite Western the stories and songs came from many of our own Mesquite residents who had spent years gathering content but now prefer the retired lifestyle to the cowboy one.
It was quite obvious by the large numbers in the audience for the Western Roundup that many of our Mesquite residents also enjoy the cowboy lifestyle or at least listening to the stories the cowboys just love to share.