Lonnie grew up in the Owyhee Desert running wild horses and in Eastern Oregon’s Blue Mountains running cattle; “Where he ran in his youth, unkempt and uncouth, unbridled, barefoot and free…”
A La Grande resident, Lonnie is a well-known musician, singer and poet in the cowboy culture circuit. Lonnie celebrates the West through old-time folk music and poetry. Poems about running cattle and wild horses, timeless bonds with family and horses flow from Shurtleff as easily as the Colorado River winds through the West. There is also an extemporaneous quality to Shurtleff’s skill for he can seemingly take any combination of randomly selected words and quickly create cowboy poetry verse. The western heritage Shurtleff speaks of is one of traditional values he wants people of all ages to embrace. Lonnie spent time in 2013 teaching students at Greenwood Elementary School the western cowboy verse form.
He moved to La Grande from Weston 10 years ago with his wife, Pat. He is a member of the Cowboy Poets of Idaho and the Western Music Association.
His poetry is largely autobiographical and reflects his experiences growing up on a ranch. He will share his poetry with your students and work with them to develop their own work. Cowboy/girl experience not required! Lonnie will encourage young people to draw on their own experiences growing up in our beautiful, unique region. Shurtleff believes anyone can become a cowboy poet. However, those with ranching backgrounds and anyone who has grown up in western rural areas like Northeast Oregon have a head start.