Even though she'll be the only Canadian poet taking part in this week's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nev., Doris Daley will feel anything but out of place.

The Black Diamond, Alta., poet has been attending the annual event since 1999 and says it's become a family gathering of sorts for her over the years.

"Remember Cheers, when Norm used to walk into the bar and everybody called his name, that is what it's like," she told Daybreak Alberta.

"It is genuinely like that. There's just something very real, very genuine, very transparently happy. I know that's an old fashioned word, but it really is a happy, family reunion feel at Elko."

Having published two books of poetry over the years, Daley has received many accolades for her writing, including being named one of the Top 5 cowboy poets three times.

"I've been writing and reciting my brand of poetry all over North America for 20 years," she said.

Being a Canadian cowboy poet — Daley is a fourth generation rancher — gives her a distinct voice.

Doris Daley cowboy poet Calgary

Doris Daley is heading to Elko, Nevada for the annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. (Doris Daley)

"There are regional styles of how we write and recite our poetry," she said. "Two or three years ago I was part of a documentary project and a filmmaker asked the question, 'where did my skill set come from?' I'm descended from a long line of cowboys and ranchers, and wheat farmers and grain elevator operators, so how come I turned out rhyming words?"

The answer came on a subsequent trip to Ireland.

"Imagine my surprise when we met a historian who said, 'Daley, if you're writing rhyming and metered stories, poems about the life you love, life in Western Canada, you get that from your father's side,'" she said. "Because the Daleys, the O'Daleys were occupational bards, they were professional poets back in traditional Irish times."


With files from Daybreak Alberta