PIERRE, S.D. – The latest edition of cowboy poet Badger Clark’s most popular volume has just been published by the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation.
“Sun and Saddle Leather” has been in continuous print since it was first published in 1915. The volume contains two of Clark’s most popular poems, “Ridin’” and “A Cowboy’s Prayer.”
Western photos from the South Dakota State Historical Society-Archives were used to illustrate the new edition of “Sun and Saddle Leather.” Financial support was provided by the South Dakota Arts Council and the Clarkson Family Foundation.
“Cowboys said of Clark’s poems that ‘his words rang true.’ Clark’s tales of the open range and the West still ring true, 100 years after they were first published,” said foundation president Catherine Forsch. “The new edition continues efforts to keep Clark’s works in print.”
The foundation is the nonprofit partner of the South Dakota State Historical Society and has headquarters with the society at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The foundation began overseeing the reprinting and distribution of work by Clark in 2015.
Clark was born on Jan. 1, 1883, in Albia, Iowa. He and his family moved to Dakota Territory when he was three months old. After being diagnosed with tuberculosis at age 23, Clark went to Arizona and was hired on a cattle ranch near Tombstone. Clark put his feelings of enjoying the open range and his fascination with cowboys into poems, many of which he sent to his stepmother. She sent a poem called “Ridin’” to Pacific Monthly magazine, which paid $10 to Clark when it was published. Clark began sending poems to Pacific Monthly and other magazines on a regular basis.
Clark’s stepmother is also said to have encouraged her stepson to write a poem reflecting the cowboy religion. The result was “A Cowboy’s Prayer.”
Clark returned to the Black Hills in 1910. “Sun and Saddle Leather,” Clark’s first volume of poetry, was published in 1915. It was followed by “Grass Grown Tales.” The two volumes were subsequently gathered into one book under the title “Sun and Saddle Leather.”
Clark was named South Dakota’s poet laureate in 1937, a title he held until his death 20 years later.
“Sun and Saddle Leather” and other works by Clark are available from the foundation by calling 605-773-6346 or at the website www.sdhsf.org.