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An Insider's Views on Cowboy Verse

The following is an excerpt from a note `From the Editor' by John Dofflemyer, published in a recent issue of the `Dry Crik Review of Contemporary Cowboy Poetry.'

BECAUSE effective problem solving is based on experience, [the cattle culture] may hold the tools for the survival of the whole, the processes of thought which underscore man's relationship with the land and his environment in terms more congruent with natural terms.

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Typical of cultures dependent upon the health of their environment, most in the range livestock culture are so closely tied to the land that this unique livelihood is indeed one with Nature.... [T]his is not a singular link with the renewable resources of grass and water, but an interwoven web connecting every aspect/level of this culture, which includes for most, an everpresent sense of history, tradition, mysticism, and spiritualtiy.

... We are shepherds by ancestry. Few ranches have trail drives, employ the wagon anymore, or require that men be out for months on end away from family. No longer nomadic, we have developed a finer, more acute sense of place as the spirit of manifest destiny now emanates and encroaches from urban areas. In this sense, we are becoming the displaced natives. Most of us have generational roots in specific geographical areas, a history of friends, family, and effort, enduring traditions as neighbors continu e to help the offspring of other neighbors with branding, gathering, etc. Our sense of place is our environment. Our mental and spiritual well-being is interwoven with its health and maintenance in a historical tapestry of friends and family - an interdependent community - and as it flourishes, so do we.

We cowboy poets have become a community - connected, yet scattered across the Western United States and Canada. The networking which has evolved is astounding and intricate. Manifestos, letters, essays, and poetry are copied and dispersed from rural towns.... Gatherings are akin to ever-enlarging family reunions sharing poetry and ideas.

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