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The Keeper of the West: Local poet wins international contest

Moss beats out western singers and songwriters
Rylan Boggs

Blue Mountain Eagle

Published on March 28, 2017 6:49PM

Last changed on March 28, 2017 6:50PM

Kathy Moss holds her Keeper of the West award she earned in Canada earlier this month. She performed her poem “K T Diner,” which she penned as a sequel to the famous song “Navajo Rug” by Ian Tyson.

The Eagle/Rylan Boggs

Kathy Moss holds her Keeper of the West award she earned in Canada earlier this month. She performed her poem “K T Diner,” which she penned as a sequel to the famous song “Navajo Rug” by Ian Tyson.

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The Keeper of the West belt buckle Kathy Moss won at the Kamloops Cowboy Festival in Kamloops, British Columbia. Moss was one of 16 singers, songwriters and poets that competed in the audience-judged event. She described it as a friendly competition among top-tier talent.

The Eagle/Rylan Boggs

The Keeper of the West belt buckle Kathy Moss won at the Kamloops Cowboy Festival in Kamloops, British Columbia. Moss was one of 16 singers, songwriters and poets that competed in the audience-judged event. She described it as a friendly competition among top-tier talent.

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A Grant County local won big at a Canadian poetry competition earlier this month.

Kathy Moss won the Keeper of the West award at the Kamloops Cowboy Festival in Kamloops, British Columbia.

She performed her poem “K T Diner” that she penned as a sequel to the famous song “Navajo Rug” by Ian Tyson.

Moss was one of 16 singers, songwriters and poets that competed in the audience-judged event. She described it as a friendly competition among top-tier talent like Kevin Davis and Joni Harms.

“It was like the Oscars in a small, Western way,” she said.

The win came as a surprise to Moss. On her flight to Canada, she had rewritten the poem and subsequently got lost in her first public reading of it.

“Tears were just running down my face when they said, ‘The winner of Keeper of the West is Kathy Moss,’” she said.

Poetry comes naturally to Moss. However, when it comes to what she’s writing, Moss doesn’t have a lot of say in the matter.

“I don’t choose what comes to me,” she said. “I would like to say, ‘OK, I’m going to write a poem about this,’ but it doesn’t work that way. When it happens, it happens.”

Her first poems were about stories her father told her about training horses, having to wear clothes for the first time and turning a $50 horse into a $1,000 horse.

She started writing to preserve those stories for future generations.

Moss has published two novels, three books and two CDs of her poetry, some of which feature her own photographs as cover art.

She also works with rescue animals and runs Russell’s Custom Meats & Deli with her husband, Tracy.

She’s thankful for the opportunity “to travel the world and do different things and see, experience and share what I’m passionate about, and then I can come back to Grant County and just be the butcher’s wife.”

At times, Moss has second-guessed her choice of medium. She confided in her friend Billie Flick that she wished her art could be more tangible, like that of a saddlemaker or silversmith.

“I’m stuck with a doggone piece of paper and pen in my hand, and it just sits there until somebody wants to read it,” Moss said.

On her stove, Flick had a single spur inlaid with silver her husband found in the desert. She said to Moss, “You see that spur? That spur is only a spur until the story is written.”

The challenge of using words to bring to life to the beauty and mystery of a single silver spur found in the desert captivated Moss.

“At that point I knew, damn, I’m a writer,” she said.



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