Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

“Cowgirl” Poet Petersen Touches Many with “Cow-boy” Verse and Humor

©Bert Gildart: For the past few days Janie and I have been living  free off the fat of our great land, which in this case means parking our Airstream at an empty lot located behind the Grand Hotel in Big Timber, Montana.  Our purpose has been to position ourselves so that we might visit in various settings with one of the nation’s best known “Cowboy” Poets.


"Campsite" outside the Grand Hotel (background) in Big Timber, Montana


We knew about Gwen Petersen from a Cowboy Poet Gathering we had attended several years ago in Lewistown, Montana.  Throughout that short weekend we had laughed with a number of great artists, but were particularly interested in Gwen, because she was a cow-woman poet.  Unlike most of her counterparts, Gwen had to break down barriers, contending with the challenge of “riding a range” most typically traveled by cowboys.

And so we found ourselves several nights ago at a bar in the Grand Hotel in Big Timber, Montana, conversing with Gwen over double shots of brandy-on-the-rocks. Though a widow she remains self assured — bolstered by an infectious sense of humor.

“Now,” she joked,  “I don’t have to cook, clean, or take criticism. I live like a man.”  In a humorous way she punctuated those thoughts with a few choice expletives prompting Janie and me to pull out a book we had used to brush up on Gwen’s background. From the last stanza of her poem A Cussin’ Woman:

…But let me step in fresh cow pie–
I take it as an omen;
So close your eyes and plug your ears–
Cuz I’m a cussin’ woman.

Gwen’s work has been published in over a dozen books to include: How to Shovel Manure and Other Life Lessons for the Country Woman; The Ranch Woman’s Manual; The Greenhorn’s Guide to the Woolly West;  Everything I know about Life I learned From My Horse; The Bachelor From Hell; and, How to be Elderly, among many others.

Because of these books (available on Amazon) and her appearances throughout the nation at anything and everything related to Cowboy Poetry, she has been dubbed “Erma Bombeck with some special problems with temperamental hired men, skunks and other varmints.” Janie thinks she is Phyllis Diller in a straw cowgirl hat.

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Reciting poetry

Though Gwen insists that it is life experiences and not so much a landscape’s features that has shaped her work, she invited us to her ranch so that we might see the Yellowstone River, which flanks her ranch; the horses she tends; the manure she steps around, or in; and the methods she has used to discourage “development” near her ranch.

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Tending horse, displaying “green” cattle skulls to discourage development near her ranch (sign reads “Beware of — Well, Just Beware”), shoveling hay and manure


How these aspects have given voice to her work remained unclear initially, but as we walked her ranch we got a feeling for the vastness of space that might shape a person’s  thoughts.  But I also got the impression that Gwen believed problems were best handled with humor — and with participation that did not allow defeat.

Janie and I suspect Gwen Petersen has ridden at full gallop after all her stray cows, and that she has cinched the rope on most.  We know that her Cowgirl Poetry has enriched the life of all those around her and that it has undoubtedly  lifted her own spirits with humor, enveloping a life that has allowed but few regrets and but little remorse.

That, of course, is exactly what cowboy poetry is supposed to do.




*Mount Katahdin


One Response to ““Cowgirl” Poet Petersen Touches Many with “Cow-boy” Verse and Humor”

  1. Tom & Sandi Palesch Says:

    Great story about Gwen. She’s a real cowgal and I bet steers and nearby men alike quake when she sets her mind on them doing as she wishes.

    I’m dialing up Amazon right now!