The Daley Grind by Doris Daley. Sundre, AB: Spur Graphics, 1995.
Cowboy poetry hit the big time when Waddie Mitchell and Baxter Black began to appear on David Letterman and Jay Leno, but it's a tradition which has been around for years. I imagine it started out around some campfire, with cowpokes swapping rhymed jokes. Today it keeps that same flavour and intimate even when presented on a stage in front of hundreds of people. There's no definition of cowboy poetry that I've ever run into. Basically, ifs poetry written in rhyming couplets and dealing with the lives and interests of cowboys. That covers a lot of territory, from love to trying to eke out a living to trying to make sense of life. It’s usually funny and often sentimental and it draws thousands of fans at gatherings from California to Alberta.
If you've never had the pleasure of hearing cowboy poetry before, and even if you have, pour a cup of coffee (that's what cowboys drink on the range), put your feet up, and settle back with The Daley Grind. Let me introduce the poet quoting the book cover. "Doris Daley grew up on a ranch established by her great grand¬father, a member of the Northwest Mounted Police, over 1.00 years ago in the Southern Alberta foothills. She started rhyming at ageS,and her interest in poetry blo$somed a few years later when she realiZed she could effectively and cheaply torment her siblings with long recitations of Robert Service poems."
These poems aren't Robert Service, and they're not even that long, most of them, but they reflect the humour and imagination of someone who could devise such a clever torment for her family. Most of .the poems are humourous, and deal with topics ranging from snipe hunters to the Western coffee break, but some are serious, includ¬ing one written as a connection to her great grandmother and all other pioneer women.
One of my favourites is about a French Canadian cowboy named Pierre whose career was cut short for a reason I can’t tell you without spoiling the poem. In fact, most of the ones I want to quote I cannot without giving something away. That wouldn't be fair to you or Doris, so I'll merely end with Doris' version of Home on the Range:
Order from Daley Grind at 208-7375 4A Street S. W, Calgary, Alberta T2V 4VS or phone 403-253-3505..
The Second Story Review, Vol 1, No. 3, September 1996