Local poet Denny Bertrand is the kind of guy you would shoot the breeze with across a fence or between pickup trucks.
But after you go around the horn and return to your mundane chores, Bertrand will process the conversation into an inspiring insight, pull over and write it down in short, evocative phrases.
It is this commitment to telling the tales and tribulations of western characters that earned recognition of his collected poems: “Western Poetry and Cowboy Flair,” published in 2010 by Xlibris.
The book garnered a second-place silver medal in the 2013 Will Rogers Medallion Award in the cowboy poetry category.
“It was a total surprise,” Bertrand said. “I had a friend nominate the book, and I keep checking the website to make sure my name is still there.”
He will travel to Fort Worth, Texas, in July to accept the silver medallion during a ceremony at the apropos Stockyards Steakhouse.
A former rancher and semi-retired livestock auctioneer, Bertrand is at home in the West. His observational style is comforting and honest.
“I like my poems to have meaning, to be true to life,” he says. “I’m really inspired by everyday occasions — ranching, feedlots, horses — anything Western.”
His draw-and-fire style of poetry pays off with an earnest quality.
“I’ve been writing poems for 20 years, and to this day I cannot sit down and just make one up. There has to be an incident to write about, then it just flows out of my head,” he says. “I feel like I live and breathe poetry.”
Bertrand’s book is available at Notah Dineh Trading in Cortez, or online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Xlibris.com.
There’s nowhere worse to live
Than in cow country with no rain
The ranchers act real funny
You start to think they’re insane
They get grouchy with their wives
And cuss and holler at their dogs
They start having daydreams
Of pulling cows out of a bog
He cusses the weatherman and bankers
And the feed salesmen are everywhere
He knows he will need the feed
But they’re like buzzards in the air
The drought causes the grass to shrivel
And the cows get real thin
He has real bad nightmares
Of having to haul water again
All of a sudden it starts raining
For days it comes with a big roar
He starts out across the country
And hopes it doesn’t rain anymore
— Denny Bertrand