Roy 'Cow Gal' poet's book named best in nation

Saturday , December 16, 2017 - 5:00 AM

JANAE FRANCIS, Standard-Examiner Staff

ROY — Northern Utah’s “Cow Gal” poet is taking laughter in hard trials to the bank.

Known for a large, tough character who personifies feminine grit, Sam DeLeeuw wrote a book named as the Cowboy Poetry Book of the Year by the Western Music Association.

Ladies, Horses & Cowboys” received the award at a ceremony in Albuquerque, New Mexico hosted by DeLeeuw last month.

“Sam DeLeeuw is one of our superstars,” said Marsha Short, executive director of the Western Music Association. “She was named female poet of the year four times and she hosted our awards for the last two years.”

The Academy of Western Artists also named DeLeeuw 2008’s best humorist.

Always of larger build, DeLeeuw, 68, is known for poems about Hilda, a 6-foot-4 woman whose mate is a 4-foot-6 man.

“Hilda and the Tornado,” is one poem from her new book. It tells about the woman whose man fits “in the crux of her arm” and whose own 300-pound frame is “an impressive sight.”

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DeLeeuw frequently uses her deep Hilda voice to recite the poem that describes Hilda driving a team of mules up a tornado’s spiral to rescue her “scrawney, snow-white, knock-kneed” man.

The poem and others like it are favorites among those who attend cowboy poetry gatherings around the country, Short said.

“Not only does (Hilda) help her in getting her poetry across but it helps in the whole entertainment value of cowboy poetry,” Short said.

“When Hilda comes on stage, people just want more.”

As a result, DeLeeuw often is given much more time to perform than some other cowboy poets at festivals throughout the country, Short said.

“She’s so funny,” Short said. “She’s a role model.”

DeLeeuw’s book was just as well received by judges in the international competition DeLeeuw won, Short said. The volume was named as the best among about 20 cowboy poetry books from throughout the United States and Canada printed in 2017.

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Her ability to capture the true cowgirl experience sets DeLeeuw apart, Short said.

“Women don’t tend to speak from their point of view too regularly,” Short said. “Most poems are about the land, familes and life on the range.”

DeLeeuw’s poem “Authentic Poet” tells about a cowgirl stopping to feed horses before performing her poetry.

Doing her best to impress the “community elite” of a “ladies’ club,” DeLeeuw describes giving what she thought was her most engaging performance.

Then, the women thanked her for being “authentic.”

“I wasn’t sure as to their meaning,” she touts.

“It comes clear as in the mirror I stare!/ The so AUTHENTIC part of my program,/ Are blown hay leaves neatly clumped in my hair!”

Huntsville cowboy poet Stan Tixier said DeLeeuw’s “homey” nature sells her poetry performances.

“She’s got good material and she presents it well,” Tixier said. “She’s funny as could be. She’s got good stage presence. She’s just a good entertainer.”

DeLeeuw said she grew up being the brunt of jokes as she was the tallest, most athletic and biggest girl in her classes.

Learning to joke about those situations as a cowboy poet has paid off, she said.

“It’s been a good life,” DeLeeuw said. “It’s been 30-plus years since I’ve been on the road and getting paid once in a while.”

With women being in the minority of cowboy poets, DeLeeuw said she’s had an advantage at finding her niche.

“The ones who are more successful have a new and different approach,” she said, before rehearsing the lines “Fresh cow poop soaked my hair, my eyes. I smelled like a bovine bouquet.”

She was performing her poem “Sunday Crisis” for a Standard-Examiner video featuring her humorous recitation.

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“All of these stories have a factual basis,” DeLeeuw said. “Every time you go out to run cows and sheep, there are always stories.”

DeLeeuw moved to Roy nearly 10 years ago after retiring from her ranch life of 30 years in Sanpete County.  

Her humor about a woman’s hard life on the ranch has won her a handful of belt buckles as the champion in poetry “rodeos” throughout the country.

“Over the years, I have received many accolades for my work, but I treasure most the people I have met in my travels around the Western states and Canada,” DeLeeuw said.

DeLeeuw is known for her mentoring of young, upcoming cowboy poets, Short said.

Those who want a copy of DeLeeuw’s book can order on her website, CowGalPoet.com.

You may reach reporter JaNae Francis at jfrancis@standard.net or 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE or like her on Facebook at Facebook.com/SEJaNaeFrancis.

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