Cowboy Poetry and Western Life

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 Kanab (Utah) April


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April, 2007
First Annual Kane County Cowboy Poetry Gathering   Kanab, Utah ~ Celebrating Cowboy Poetry Week
(and the Annual
Cowboy Poets of Utah Dinner and Awards)


  report and photos by Jo Lynne Kirkwood

                                and additional report below by Laurali Noteman


First Annual Kane County Cowboy Poetry Gathering
 the Annual Cowboy Poets of Utah
Dinner and Awards


On the weekend of April 20th and 21st – the final days of Cowboy Poetry Week!Kanab, Utah hosted the Cowboy Poets of Utah for our annual dinner, and the first ever Kane County Cowboy Poetry Gathering.  On Friday evening we dined in luxury in the Parry Lodge dining room, and the buffet was excellent!  Paul Kern brought copies of the 2007 declaration signed by Governor, again designating the third week of April Cowboy Poetry Week, and as CPU members arrived we each signed a copy of the Cowboy Poetry Week poster sent by This was part of the program to honor Barbara Hall, CPU’s 2007 recipient of the Pioneer Heritage Award, which is given annually to a poet who “lives the life, dreams the dreams, and tells the stories of Utah’s Pioneer Cowboys.”  The poster, along with a framed copy of the declaration and many gifts, cards and good wishes were sent home with Lon Hall to give to his mom, Barbara, since serious health problems that have plagued her for the past month prevented her from attending in person. 

Following dinner, Kenny Hall officiated as CPU Vice President, and our Pioneer Heritage Award was presented to Lon. Sam DeLeeuw, who was in Idaho receiving her own special award at the Idaho poets’ annual dinner so couldn’t attend, put together a photo album/scrapbook for Barb, which already included emails and cards from absent well-wishers, and  Barb’s friends in attendance also took turns sharing their best wishes. Thanks to Shawna Cox, Kanab resident and lifelong friend, we were able to film the sharing part of the evening.

Paul Kern and Curly Syndergaard


Curly and Sheryl Syndergaard have volunteered to take the DVD to Barb. Even though Barb couldn’t be there, it was a touching and wonderful evening.  We love you Barb, and thanks again to everyone who took the time and made the effort to be there.

         Lon Hall, Barbara’s son

On Saturday morning we met at the Crescent Moon Theater, on Kanab’s main street.  Sessions ran from ten through four, and the entertainment was exceptional.  Participants included: Kenny Hall, Jerry "Brooksie" Brooks, Marion Manwill, Michael Robinson, Don Kennington, Laurali Noteman, Latigo, Laurie Tye, Gordon Thomas, Curly Syndergaard, Paul Kern, Doug Keller, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Caib, Braden and Aubree Brian, Mike Noteman and a other performers from the Kanab area. Myrna Cox, Kane County poet and part of the committee, coordinated a group of youth performers who added to the promise that there is a generation of poets waiting in the wings to carry on after we’ve ridden off into our final sunsets, and the Kanab-area new BLM chief, Brad Exton, is actually (finally!) a guy with a western mind-set who plays guitar and sings just like a real cowboy.

The evening show began with Kenny Hall, who performed with his guitar for a half-hour of pre-show entertainment.  At seven the show officially began, and CPU took the opportunity to present Sam Jackson with a plaque honoring him for his significant contribution to cowboy poetry in Utah with the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo.

Jo Kirkwood, Kenny Hall, Doug Keller, and Sam Jackson


Sam Jackson comments, "
It should be noted that was one of the few occasions ever rendering me speechless."


Through the years that the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo has been in our state it has not only been an excellent forum to hone skills, but many of us have also made many friends among the poets who have come in from other areas.  We’ve rubbed shoulders with some great ones, and I know I’m speaking for us all when I say we will miss the opportunities the rodeo has presented to us here in Utah.  The rodeo will continue to thrive, but now we’ll have to travel far distances if we want to participate.  Sam has fought hard to make the rodeo a reality, and to make it work in Kanab. CPU presented him with the plaque so he would know his efforts are not unappreciated by the many of us who have benefited from them. Thanks, Sam. We sincerely wish for your continued success with the rodeo, now in another venue.


Caib, Braden and Aubree Brian were the first poets on stage Saturday night, and they showed off in their usual delightful way. The kids were followed by Jo Lynne Kirkwood, then Latigo (Ken Stevens, Monica Anderson and Kevin Paul) took over for another half hour of fine music. 

Don and Arlene Kennington

Don Kennington rocked us all with his silliness and nonsense after Latigo, then Brenn Hill came out for a truly marathon performance.  Brenn is a frequent Kanab performer, and the audience knows him well and clearly has favorites.  Folks felt comfortable calling out requests, and Brenn happily complied.  Kane County’s “first” poetry gathering included continuous fine performances, and plans are underway to keep this an annual event. Thanks again to Doug Keller, Sam Jackson, Laurali Noteman, Myrna Cox, and the rest of the group in Kanab who worked to put the event together. This was a fun one.

Brenn Hill


Laurali Noteman shared her article from the Southern Utah News:

Kane Country Cowboy Poetry Gathering

Kane Country First Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering was a success! How do you judge a first ever event and deem it as successful? Well, here are a few comments which will help you make that determination for yourself.

County sixth grade students wrote and memorized poetry, with over 50 art projects being presented and displayed throughout the county. Four young poets or reciters from our area were selected to perform for the poetry gathering. They learned, they grew, they had a great time. We also had participation from 3 other young buckaroos from the
Cowboy Poets of Utah, CPU.

An outstanding banquet was held Friday night at Parry’s Lodge to honor Utah’s Cowboy Poet of the Year, Barbara Hall. A large group from CPU, came in from all over the state to feast, make merry, swap a few stories and honor Miss Hall.

Saturday morning started off with Willow Canyon offering a “coffee with an author” book signing. They invited Warren Stucki, MD, in for a book signing spotlighting one of his books, “oys Pond.

Once again Paula Zutes, owner of the Crescent Moon Theater came through with flying colors. She has a true and sincere desire to bring in quality entertainment and assist Kanab in maintaining its Western Heritage. One of her sidekicks, Dustin Jackman, takes as much pride in the Crescent Moon as Zutes does and obviously holds a precious spot for Paula in his heart.

Doug Keller pulled together a wonderful assortment of cowboy poets and musicians for the open mic sessions. We had 20 poets and 6 musicians. We laughed, we thought, we pondered, and came together, not at all a bad way to pass the time. Theater goers came and went throughout the day for a mere $5 day pin pass.

While all this was going on Bob Cook was out really “roughing it” on the golf course. But I’ll let him tell you about that because my knowledge of golf, well let’s just not even go there.

The night show began with the prelude from Kenny Hall, which ended all to soon. No time was lost as a well earned thanks from CPU was offered to Sam Jackson. Jackson has done a tremendous job throughout the state to keep cowboy poetry alive. He has rekindled the spark for many and has introduced the genre to many more. After the short presentation Latigo came up and led the audience in “God Bless America.” It was a heartfelt moment for all of us.

Our guest poets this year were Jo Lynne Kirkwood and Don Kennington. These two poets have the ability to hold their audience with class and style all the way. We also were entertained by the 3 young poets from the northern reaches of the state. Latigo took the stage as the nights entertainment continued. With the Cowboy Poetry winding down Brenn Hill lit up the stage and the show was on again. Hill was true to form with his Cowboy and Country music and upbeat outlook.

The Second Annual Kane Country Cowboy Poetry Gathering is in the planning stages. It is slated for the third weekend in April 2008, which is traditionally “
Cowboy Poetry Week.” Sponsors are already stepping forward for participation in next year‘s Gathering. Please take a moment and peruse the list of contributing sponsors. Our sincerest thanks goes out to them all.

The Western Poetry Writers’ Association is to be commended. With a short lead time they pulled it together and they preformed. Was the day a success?

Did we laugh? Yes. Did we take a moment to reflect? Yes. Did we sing? Yes. Did we enjoy? Yes.

First Annual Kane Country Cowboy Poetry Gathering Financial Support Sponsors

Kane County Travel Council
Zion’s First National Bank
Quality Printing
Coral Cliff Golf Course
Southern Utah News
Kanab Tire
Honey’s Jubilee
Glazier’s Food Town
Ramsay Service Center
Shilo Inn
Aiken’s Lodge
Parry’s Lodge
Zion’s Pharmacy

And a special thanks to the last minute “no problem whatever we can do to help” individuals:

Mike Noteman
Paul Kern
Bob Cook
Nick Ramsay
Dan Thebeau and Adrianna
Joanne Russell
Alleen Sherwood
Jensen Saddle Company



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