BOOK
     RICK HUFF'S BEST of the WEST REVIEWS

MARLEEN BUSSMA
Tales of the Trails
Here for your shelf (but preferably your hands, eyes and heart) is the latest printed collection of works from poet Marleen Bussma, a lady who knows the life and brings it to life.  Some of the poems here repeat the common themes of cowboy grit vs. the elements and long years in the saddle.  Perhaps not surprising, but to me the Bussma works that contain the most forward momentum are those based on historic occurrences or tales, and yet there can certainly be a full story in an event.  Bussma The Storyteller is formidable, but Bussma The Portrait Painter In Words is no slouch.  “Firedance” is as apt a relating of the prelude to a stampede, its course and aftermath as ever I’ve read.  Or “Rattlesnake Kate” which is, in quatrains, a short story with a punchline end (Kate’s, in fact!).  Or “Dime Novel Demise” about the ignominious end of Russian Bill and Sandy King.  There’s “Sentimental Journey”, the sweet longings of an 1880s Longhorn bull, and the many clear scenes conveyed in “The Apron.”  Much to discover in thirty-eight works on seventy pages.
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     RICK HUFF'S BEST of the WEST REVIEWS

MARLEEN BUSSMA
“Saddle Up for Cowboy Poetry”

         More literate than some Cowboy Poetry offered these days, many of Marleen Bussma’s works, with their artful turns of phrase, compare favorably with those of the genre’s classic notables.  Her awards attest to that as well.
         In her newest collection, Bussma again presents vivid historic portraits like “Stagecoach Mary,” “Three Toes” and “Bull’s Eye” (about Comanche Jack Stilwell).  In various works we gain insight and viewpoint from current, soon-to-be or potential ranch wives and other women of the West.  Bussma’s delivery is rhythmic, but never sing-song.  It still lives within conversational parameters.
        Picks include “Country Melody”, “A Spotted Past” (appaloosa history), “A Sunset Earned” and a fun tribute to TV Westerns called “Rewind.”  Bussma is enjoyable through the many scenes and moods she conveys.  Fourteen tracks total.  Recommended.
               
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Hi Marleen:
I received your cd yesterday and love it. Great stories. I really like Three Toes. I will be playing that on this Monday's podcast along with Stagecoach Mary. I will be playing others in future podcasts .  In my opinion, your poetry CD is one of the best I've received this year. 

Thanks again.
 
Bob O’Donnell
    westernjukebox.podbean.com

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 Frequently Utah poet Marleen Bussma will catch me off guard. Just when I’m expecting a “regular” sort of cowboy poetry rhyme or image, she’ll do something like she does in “The Broken Spur Café” (“…Zeke fills his mouth with salty cuss words plentiful and cheap…tho’ dunked young as a Baptist water hadn’t sunk too deep!”) or, describing the retired cowhands, “…they look around and see the morning café crowd has thinned…and rise up slowly just like smoke that’s not sure of the wind!”

In her book, Is She Country?, Bussma often works with historical figures and visions from past and present. The majority of the collection is done in sort of a “Casey At The Bat” rhythm. But one work (“Slow Burn”) is notable due to an intentional break in the pattern as a set-upon ranch wife contradicts in rebellious prose her husband’s rhythmic, rhymed edicts. In “White Out” a stagecoach emerges from a blizzard with its driver frozen in place. Another stagecoach verse “Old Joe” comes with an O. Henry-worthy twist. Recommended.


Review by Rick Huff


As someone who has written Cowboy poetry myself, I stand in awe of the accomplishment of poets like Silver medal winner Marleen Bussma.  “Is She Country?” combines a wide range of excellent verse on subjects as diverse as family to history to Colt 45’s.  Believe me, writing poetry on that wide a range of subjects is impressive.  Historical verse is especially difficult, because not only must the poetry be top quality (as Marleen's is), but the history must be true - and interesting.  We can only hope she will continue to produce such outstanding, award-winning verse.
 
Charles E. Williams
Executive Director, Will Rogers Medallion Award Committee

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Historical happenings are the poetic goldmine of Utah poet Marleen Bussma. A North Dakota native, Bussma’s title track deals with the wild and wooly life of Poker Alice. Bussma’s delivery is what I would consider to be the spot-on mix of reciting and interpretive acting.

In literate and wonderfully descriptive verse, Bussma tells of “The Outlaw,” a legendary 1900s saddle bronc (“the rodeo grew claws and snatched my carefree life away”). From “The Phantom’s Lure,” about a mustang now penned, we get “teasing thoughts of freedom flicker, fade and fall behind.” From “Slow Burn” she shows a damaged pen and its contents with “like the hull of the Titanic wood has sprung a gaping hole…movement heads in that direction as bulls think about parole!”

Give this one a try. You won’t be disappointed. Fourteen tracks.

Review by Rick Huff
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