Originally Published: September 13, 2013 6 a.m.
In conjunction with the Phippen Museum's ongoing exhibit, "Trappings of the American West," poets from around the state will stir up the air with poetry and song on 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14. Organized by Dry Creek Arts Fellowship member, Anita Nordbrock, the Riding the Rim Cowboy Poetry Gathering is a longtime favorite among Trappings audience members.This year's participating poets include the following artists:Sally Bates of Chino Valley was born and raised in Prescott area and her roots are sunk deep in the malapai ridges of Yavapai County. Her family tree "forks both ways" into the Arizona sod and she has had the honor of being one of five living generations of women who all lived near Prescott. Her dad worked ranches in the shade of Camp Wood Mountain for over 50 years and her grandfather cowboyed in western New Mexico as a young man, eventually bringing his family to Arizona. She spent most of her life in the company of cowboys and their families, having both friends and family who worked on ranches and earned their keep as cowboys. Sally is a published writer, poet, songwriter and photographer, and has been nominated four times as Female Poet of the Year through the Academy of Western Artists. She has earned a living at different times in her life as a camp cook, rider of drag, a saddlemaker's wife and substitute mother to orphaned calves and donkeys. Sally is also proud to have served the cowboy community for two years as secretary of the Arizona Cowpunchers' Association. She also helps keep the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering going strong, serving as its director for two years and helping every year with its organization. And in 2002, Sally was the recipient of the Gail I. Gardner Award.Janet Moore of Camp Verde writes from the heart and with a lifetime of experience in ranching. Ranch raised and a descendant of at least three generations of ranchers, Janet has lived all of her life on ranches throughout the West and writes from those experiences. She has recited at gatherings throughout the Southwest and has written one book. Married to a working cowboy, she sometimes had to stay behind raising seven children, but her thoughts never did. She is at home in the saddle as she is at a desk, saying, "I intend to be a part of the cowboy culture and ranch life until it is wiped out or they bury me under it." Her children are following in their parent's footsteps and the family's ranching heritage has been passed on to yet another generation. Janet is also the recipient of the 2012 Gail I. Gardner Award.Daisy Dillard of Camp Verde has a ranching background on both sides of her family tree. Both sets of grand-parents homesteaded in the Sacramento Mountains in New Mexico, and Daisy was born in Mimbres. She met and married a young cowboy named Bill Dillard, and from then on she was a cowboy's wife. They've worked ranches including the Boquillos, Buenos Aires, JV Bar, and many others in between. Their two grown children grew up punching cows, and of her nine grandchildren, some are "making pretty good hands, too." Currently they are living and working on a small ranch outside of Kingman, which they bought in 1985. Daisy has been sharing her poetry for several years at gatherings in Silver City, Prescott, Sierra Vista and others throughout the West. She and her daughter, Janet Moore, are a welcome and refreshing addition to any cowboy poetry gathering. Audrey Hankins of Skull Valley has participated in all the Prescott Poet Gatherings and is a poet whose work is as much appreciated as she is. Her writing depicts the life she knows and loves so much - ranching. She says, "When God closes a door, He opens a window. I believe that is true. When I left ranch life, along came cowboy poetry gatherings and a bunch of kindred-soul friends all over the West - folks who understand what a cow says to her calf, and who validate and nurture my link to the land." Her thoughtful and humorous poems are full of charm and wit, and whether herding cattle or putting pen to paper, Audrey is a top hand. The book she created with artist Bob (Shoofly), Shufelt, Raised on Good Pasture, was nominated for the 1998 Academy of Western Artists Award. Audrey was also the 1998 recipient of the Gail I. Gardner Award. After years of ranch life, she now is retired and doesn't get to many gatherings anymore. But Prescott is her favorite and she hasn't missed one yet, saying, "The poets and musicians are family, and Prescott is our reunion."Phil Ellsworth of Prescott began riding at the age of seven and spent as much time around horses as he could growing up in Denver. As a young man, he worked for various guest and cattle ranches, working cattle, starting colts, working out bad habits of horses in the dude string, and doing some of the shoeing. He started out his veterinarian career in Safford but moved his mixed practice to Prescott in 1964. For the next twenty-five years, he was involved in medicine and surgery for horses, cattle, sheep, goats and numerous small animals. The influence of Gail Gardner's poetry and his acquaintance with George Phippen planted seeds of inspiration that sprouted into Phil's poetry. He has published a book of poetry titled The Scoop and was the recipient of the Gail I. Gardner Award in 2011.Buck Ryberg of Tucson has made an appearance at the Prescott Gathering for 25 of its 26 years in existence. From 1989-2012, he and the Desert Sons performed traditional and contemporary music of the American West. Their unique vocal harmony and classic instrumentation were combined with an energy and stage presence that always engaged the audience in celebration of the West and its music. Buck's music is an expression of the deep roots he has in the West and he writes and sings about what he has lived and loves. The Desert Sons were Bill Ronstadt, Buck Ryberg, Benny Young and Skelly Boyd. A retired pastor, Buck was the lead vocalist and has lived in 'Baja', Ariz. (Tucson) since 1951, learning cowboy songs, wrangling at the family dude ranch and riding the deserts and mountains of Arizona. The Desert Sons produced several CDs including In the Heart of the West, Where the Mountains Meet the Sky and Arizona Sons and they were the recipients of the Heritage Award in 2011.Nika Nordbrock of Prescott was born and raised as a farm kid with ties to the land. She learned about cowboy poetry in Hawaii during the summer of 1984 when Joe Wilson from the National Council for the Traditional Arts brought The Cowboy Tour to O'ahu, Maui and the Big Island. When she moved to Prescott, Ariz., in 1986, she again met Everett Brisendine, an old-time cowboy whom she had met when he was on that national tour. She has been involved with cowboy poetry and the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering as a volunteer and member of their planning committee since 1988. And in 1999, she began doing day work for the P-Bar, Cross S and Timber Springs ranches in Walnut Grove and Parks, Ariz. She has fixed fence, ridden drag, pushed cows, put out protein, helped with gathers and branding, and cooked for branding/round-up crews. She was invited to recite classical and contemporary cowboy poetry and Hawaiian mele (songs) at the Ridin' the Rim Flagstaff Cowboy Poetry Gathering in 2004 and has helped out since then. Nika has recited at Prescott since 2004 and at Elko and Alpine, Texas, since 2005. She recites classical cowboy poetry by S. Omar Barker, Badger Clark, Curley Fletcher, Sharlot M. Hall, Bruce Kisdaddon and Henry Herbert Knibbs as well as the work of contemporary cowboy poets who have since passed on to a better job. She is the coeditor of the anthology "Thanks for the Poems: A Commemorative Collection for the 20th Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering."Be sure to join the Phippen Museum and these outstanding poets on Saturday Admission is free for museum members and included in the cost of general admission for guests. The museum is located just a few minutes north of downtown Prescott at 4701 Highway 89 North, and general admission is $7 for adults, $6 for AAA members, $5 for students with ID and free for children 12 and under. Call 778-1385 or visit www.phippenartmuseum.org.
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