Cowboy Poetry Week
Story and photo by Jennifer Denison
For centuries, cowboy poets have played an integral role in chronicling the romance and realism of the West. Through their strategically crafted words, they bring to life the sights, sounds, revels and hardships of cowboy and ranch life and take us to different places and, in some cases, back in time. To honor these wordsmiths, this week marks the 14th annual Cowboy Poetry Week, sponsored by the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry.
Officially recognized by the United States Senate and by 23 state governors, Cowboy Poetry Week celebrates an oral folk tradition by encouraging special programs held in rural libraries and offering The Bar-D Roundup CDs, an annual compilation of classic and current cowboy poetry recited by some of the most renowned cowboy poets and produced by the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. The organization also commissions an annual poster to promote the event.
This year’s poster features the painting Cowboy True, Thru & Thru, by Kansas artist Don Dane. The painting is of working cowboy and poet Trey Allen, who was diagnosed in February of 2013 with multiple myeloma, a form of cancer affecting bone marrow. After several hospital stays and two bone marrow transplants, Allen cautiously announced on social media in early April that his cancer is in remission.
“The good doctor then threw something at me that I have heard but for some reason unknown even to me, I'm not a fan of, he said the myeloma is in ‘complete remission,” he wrote. “You can use the term if you like but when I say it, it has a hollowness to it. As in it's not meant to stay. I will simply say that six months ago there were cancerous cells in my blood, a lot of them, now they are gone.
“None of this would be possible without the donor. God bless this young man and watch over him. I hope to meet him someday and thank him personally, but until then thank you so much for your gift to not only me, but all family and friends. This person will always be in my heart.”
The manager of Rod Moyer Ranch south of Manhattan, Kansas, Allen has wasted no time getting back to one of the busiest times on the ranch. He also released a new CD of poetry called A Remnant Gather, which includes collaborations with his eldest daughter, Shandee, a talented musician, and fellow poet Geff Dawson.
Through the support of his close-knit family and friends, fiancee Janice Hannagan, and the ranching and medical communities, Allen remained a positive inspiration throughout his treatments and refused to be an idle cancer patient. His grit, tenacity and genuine cowboy spirit won the hearts of friends old and new.
“He has an influence on anyone he meets, not just in poetry, because of his authenticity and honesty,” Shandee says. “My dad is who he is; he’s going to stand up in front of you with his lime green shirt with his brand on the cuffs, Pepto-Bismol pink tall-top boots, a hat with a beaded hat band and some crazy wild rag. He’s confident in who is, and his genuineness shines through in his poetry.”