Mean Poets & Calm Cattle

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If you got to talking to most cowboys, they’d admit they write ’em. I think some of the meanest, toughest sons of bitches around write poetry.” — Ross Knox

In 1908, a local rancher walked into the Estancia, New Mexico newspaper office, and inquired about printing a small book of cowboy songs he had been working on. For almost twenty years, Jack Thorp gathered cowboy ballads and poems from across the west. The finished volume was printed for just six cents a copy, and was the first book exclusively devoted to cowboy songs. Not only that, but Thorp is recognized as the first person to preserve the ballads sung by ranchers to calm cattle on the range.

A special corner of the Marie Guiraud Ranching Library at Buffalo Peaks Ranch will be devoted to cowboy poetry, and will include many sound recordings as well:

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Cowboy Poetry Classics (a CD of a Smithsonian Folkways recording)

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Cowboy Songs, Ballads, and Cattle Calls from Texas, a Library of Congress CD, featuring field recordings made by John A. Lomax. We also have several books by Lomax, including:

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And it’s not just cowboys who write poetry:

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Graining the Mare: The Poetry of Ranch Women, edited by Teresa Jordan

The Marie Guiraud Ranching Library at Buffalo Peaks Ranch:

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In the ranch’s Main House, right through the green screen door to the right, we’ll be setting up a special library — celebrating ranching history & traditions, from the early days to the present, with books on ranching in the American West, and across the globe.

This constantly-growing library is named after Marie Guiraud, who along with her husband Adolph, first established this homestead ranch, back in 1862 along the Middle Fork of Colorado’s South Platte River.

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