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Montana's Bainville School students, teachers, parents, and community members gathered on February 28, 2006 for a Cowboy Poetry Day celebration, the culmination of the school's "I Love to Read" month. 

Prior to the event, Paula Schledewitz introduced the 4-H Cowboy Poetry Project to her students at Bainville School, and popular local poet DW Groethe worked with students—from first grade through high schoolin sessions about writing cowboy poetry. All grades took part in Cowboy Poetry Day, and students from each grade wrote and presented poetry.  We're pleased to have a selection of the poems below.


DW Groethe's Teaching Points

Selected Poems


DW Groethe's Comments

The Blues News Report

Additional Links


DW Groethe's Teaching Points

DW Groethe's seven points of writing advice for students:

1. Nobody can teach you how to be a poet. You have to teach yourself.

2. What you start with probably won't be what you end up with.

3. Just write the poem. Don't go for the big moral lesson.

4. It's all about words (see point 7).

5. Read lots of different styles.

6. Write about what you know

7. Re-write till it's right.

Selected Poems

Students poems were gathered in a book dedicated to D. W. Groethe. Poems included were written by: the 2nd Grade Class (Austin Strickland, Cleve Garman, Haydon Harmon, Jamison Ehlers, and Beau Hyatt); Jamison Ehlers, the 1st Grade Class (Abby Reidle, Austin Romo, Dylan Rabbe, Elijah Romo, Fallon Larman, Farrah Garman, Jameson Egemo, and Oxsana Harmon); Austin Strickland, Cleve Garman, Beau Hyatt, Carly Bowker, Mikayla Lambert, Ashleigh Priddy, Collin Ryder, Somer Reidle, Elizabeth Rabbe, Russell Bowker, Shayla Garman, Stephanie Egemo, Rhett Harmon, Chance Hyatt, Don Johnson, Jackie Horob, Drue Nelson, Katorina Pippenger, Katie Heen, Liza Harmon, Waylon Garman, Weston Harmon, Christina Holm, Luke Panasuk, Bonita Sipe, Tate Traeger, Chris Weber, Nick Weber, Samantha Mahlen, Chelsea M. Portra, Paula Schledewitz, and teacher Diane Hansen.  High school student Lindsey Nelson had an additional poem, inspired by DW Groethe's song, "Only Cowgirls Give Cowboys the Blues."

We're pleased to have a selection of poems, posted with the kind permission of each poet:

Rhett Harmon, "Calvin' Kid"
Drue Nelson, "The Lesson"
Katie Heen, "Life on a Farm"
Waylon Garman, "Running"
Bonita Sipe, "The Poor Buckaroo"
Chelsea M. Portra, "The Lone Ranger"
Lindsey Nelson, "Cowboy Blues"


Calvin' Kid

You might be stayin' up 'till one,
Lookin' out to see what's done,
Unless you get scared without your gun.

Feedin' calves and checkin' them,
Cure 'em and find 'em
Rowdy calves are kicken' hem.

The neighbor's house, very quiet.
The only sounds are baby riots.
Dreams of planes and you fly it.

Then go home and go to bed.
After you go and rest your head,
Dad said, "You'll do it over 'till you're dead."

© 2006, Rhett Harmon
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


The Lesson

Once upon a long time ago
There was a kid named Boston
Who needed a little guidance
'Cause he was an annoyance.

He got some help that day
When Allen told him to go
To ride that itty-bitty calf
That was when Boston got half.

Half of the guidance he needed
'Cause that calf was no baby
It fought and it fought but never could buck
That kid who said it was luck

But that kid never knew it was acomin'
When he took on that bronco
He tried and he tried but never could bust
That bronc the color of rust.

He learned a valuable lesson that day
But his pride he never could swallow
He learned never to boast up your talent no matter how good you are
He still has the image of that buck'n bronco welled up in his heart

© 2006, Drue Nelson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Life on a Farm

My day starts early
But that's the way

The cows need feed
And the horses their hay

The saddles need some cleanin'
While the calves are a weanin'

The fences need some stringin'
While I hope the shed will keep a leanin'

I'd better get done what needs to be
Before the old boss comes and yells at me

© 2006, Katie Heen
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.




The only time I really love to ranch and thrive
Is when I'm on a long cattle drive
With my horse and I all alone
Herding cattle with an old red roan

Now, the greatest part is going fast
When the cows get up and move at last
All you do is edge him a little
And he takes off like an old time riddle

Now, to most a trail ride ain't much fun
But when you're going faster than you've ever run
Then I feel my fun level's high
Like a cloud up in the sky

At the end of the day
I'm tired and sore
But it was worth it
'Cause you're done with that chore

© 2006, Waylon Garman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



The Poor Buckaroo

There once was a buckaroo
A very long time ago
He had a lasso
And went to quite a few rodeos

But then suddenly a stampede
Then the buckaroo had no cattle
Which meant no more money
I guess ranching has its bad days too

© 2006, Bonita Sipe
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



The Lone Ranger

She finished her chores
And headed for home,
She did them quick,
And rode alone

Alone because this cowgirl
Wasn't like most gals
She didn't need herself,
A lot of pals.

The only thing
She really did need,
Was an open range
And a powerful steed.

The country life
For her and her horse,
Must have been better
Than the city, of course.

The city life she thought
Was all just a blur,
But she didn't need tall buildings
To satisfy her.

To the townspeople,
She was but a stranger.
She was strong and independent,
The lone ranger.

© 2006, Chelsea M. Portra
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Cowboy Blues

She's got the face of an angel.
Her eyes are big 'n brown,
And every cowboy gets excited,
When she rides into town.

They're not exactly sure what does it,
Maybe it's her smile, big 'n bright,
But everybody knows, that every cowboy'll be stayin'
Until she leaves that night.

Her eyes, they sparkle, all night long,
As they peek out from under her cowboy hat,
Her boots and jeans are dirty from workin' all day,
And her long, blonde braid hangs down her back.

They're not exactly sure what does it,
Every cowboy wishes they could ask her to dance,
But there know there's no use in tryin',
Cause none of them stand a chance!

Her heard belongs to her ranch and the rodeo,
But you'll never see her cry,
She doesn't need a cowboy,
To live a fun, restless life.

When she finally leaves that night,
The boys are sad, but it's no news,
Don't ever try to figure her out,
Cause this cowgirl will always give cowboys the blues.

© 2006, Lindsey Nelson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


More Photos


DW Groethe's Comments

Cowboy Poetry Day in Bainville, Montana

A short while back I got a chance to work with the kids of Bainville School on a project they called Cowboy Poetry Day. Originally they had intended on calling it DW Day, but a short trip to the superintendent's office helped put the kibosh on that little idea...somewhat. 

I arranged to hold a couple of classes with the students early on to give them an idea of what it takes for me to write a poem and how I go about it. We also talked about what poetry is and the various styles it comes in from the meter and rhyme of traditional cowboy verse to the more independent lines found in free range poetry of today. Then I told them if they each wrote a poem we'd put together a show for the community featuring them and me on February 28th, Cowboy Poetry Day. 

To be honest, I wasn't real sure I had any effect on them during the classes, but we had fun and a month later when the big day came around, boy was I surprised. Apparently they'd been listening. In front of a real nice-sized audience of family and friends, over forty of Bainville's finest budding poets got up and did their best. It was great. One of those days that'll ride high in my memories for a long time comin'. Makes a fellow proud to call Bainville home.


DW Groethe with Bainville School students on Cowboy Poetry Day

The Blues News Report

The March, 2006 issue of the student newspaper, Blues News, carried a report of the event by reporters Megan Berndt, Tommy Johnston, Chris Weber, and Skyler Karnes:

reprinted with permission

Additional Links

Visit the Bainville School web site, which includes a report on Cowboy Poetry Day with additional photos, the High School Journalism page (home of the Blues News), and more

Read more about DW Groethe in our feature here.

Read more about the Montana 4-H Cowboy Poetry Project in our feature here.



Special thanks to Bainville teacher Brandy Hansen for coordinating the information in this feature and to Kirk Astroth of the Montana 4-H Cowboy Poetry Project.







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