Cowboy Poetry event comes to Volga City Opera House Oct. 22-23

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By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


It took a few years, but Cowboy Poetry is finally coming to the Volga City Opera House on Oct. 22 and 23. The event has long been one VCTC President Tom Lott has wanted to stage, not just because of a personal connection with performer Marty Blocker, who happens to be his cousin, but also because of what the Cowboy Poetry show represents, which is a look into farming past and present. 


The show is relatable to northeast Iowans because, as Lott mentioned, this is a farming community with individuals who know what it’s like working the day to day on the farm and getting things done. 


“You know, back in the day, when they would work their ranch, they’d work 12 hours from sun up until sun down. At night, for their entertainment, was telling stories and singing or doing poetry around the campfire. So, they became really good at being storytellers,” Lott added. 


Basically, it is campfire talk of old stories, new stories and reimagined ones.  


The show is as much about relearning the past as it is a representation of a past where hard work ethic reigned. As Lott put it, “hard work won’t kill you.” 


He continued, “A hard work ethic actually improves you and gives you a better appreciation in life. Hard work is actually enjoyable.”  


This expression of life through poetry and song will be played out in a decorated opera house with a western theme. The bare bones performance doesn’t require much pomp and circumstance or bells and whistles. It’s a family event at a community centric venue, where organizers accept ideas from the public about what they want to see.


One thing people have clamored for has been something that brings them back to their roots, which are firmly entrenched in the farming life of northeast Iowa. 


Cowboy Poetry is a show that, if you attend, you’ll attend again. It’s a show Lott and VCTC have high expectations for, given the content and the community. The expectations also come from the fact that VCTC has plans to run weekly events at the opera house as early as 2022. Community support, which has never been in question according to Lott, is essential to that goal. 


When it comes to the actual show and cowboy poetry, perhaps a piece from a poem Blocker recited on Facebook to promote the event will shed some light on the evening in store. 


“There’s a language that the cowboy knows, that’s soft and floats on the air. Like the wind that blows through the blue stem and it plays with the pony’s hair…sometimes it’s loud like the crack of a thunder that brightens the darkened land. More often than not, it’s no sound at all, like smoke, lifting off of a brand. The grass and the water will tell you out loud when it’s time to find different rains, and the wind, the clouds and the birds will tell you when the weather will change,” he shared. “It’s the message you get when you pick up your saddle and your pony is talking war, or it’s knowing that your maker is with you always when you watch an eagle soar. The best words of all is when you’re out in the alone and all you hear is that saddle squeak. That’s the language that we understand, and the talk that a cowboy speaks.” 


Tickets are still available for the event, which includes dinner and features poetry, singing and story telling from Blocker, Paul Larson and Jan Schifrel. Tickets can be purchased at

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