Photo by John F. Russell
Soroco High School senior Lanette Laman is taking her cowboy poetry talents to Heber City, Utah, where she will perform with some of the writers who have inspired her interest in poetry.
Steamboat Springs There’s no fiction in cowboy poetry.
Well, there could be some embellishment, but the stories have to come from some experience, said Lanette Laman, a senior at Soroco High School.
Laman would know. The 17-year-old amateur cowboy poet uses her experience growing up on ranches as the inspiration for her poetry.
“It helps if you know what you’re talking about instead of making stuff up,” she said. “You can’t just watch a movie about cowboys. It’s easier and more meaningful if you actually live it.”
This weekend, others will get to experience Laman’s cowboy poetry. She has been invited to perform today and Saturday during Heber City’s Cowboy Poetry and Buckaroo Gathering in Heber City, Utah.
According to its website, the 16th annual event promotes the cowboy way of life through music, poetry and art. Laman said it’s the largest cowboy poetry gathering in the country.
“I’m really excited,” she said. “It’s really an honor to be able to go and have a spot saved on the mic for me with some of the people I’ve looked up to that have inspired me to keep writing. I’m a little nervous.”
Laman started performing cowboy poetry two years ago during the inaugural Bunkhouse Bull Session at the Routt County Fairgrounds in Hayden.
After Laman performed, Fair Board member Donnie Hayes encouraged her to keep writing and performing. At this past Bunkhouse Bull Session, in April, Hayes said Laman continued to shine. She was awarded a $500 college scholarship.
“What she had written, she lived it. It wasn’t just a bunch of words flung on paper,” he said. “And when she performed it, she did well. For someone who hasn’t done it, she is a natural, I think. The judges all thought the same thing. She’s got a unique quality.”
Laman was invited to the Routt County Fair this summer, where she performed with cowboy poets Jeff Carson and Susie Knight. Laman said it was Carson who ensured she’d have spot at Heber City.
“For a 17-year-old student to get invited to perform there for two shows is really saying something,” Hayes said. “She does write some good stuff. It’s all about what she’s done. It’s all original.”
Laman said she’s been writing poetry since sixth grade. Cowboy poetry allows her to tell stories about her life. Laman said she likes to make people laugh. She said she doesn’t plan to stop writing any time soon.
She’s been accepted to Arizona Western College in Yuma, Ariz., and Lamar Community College in Lamar, where she would study equine science. Laman also has applied to Queens College in Queens, N.Y., where she would study creative writing.
“I want to do something with ag, but tie writing into it, like ag communications or ag journalism,” Laman said. “If I get into Queens College, I’ll go. But if not, I’ll stick with ag and write on the side.”