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Turner Valley cowboy poet spends pandemic penning new book

Doris Daley poses a series of serious, humourous and thought-provoking questions to her friends in her book That's a Good Answer.
Doris Daley
Turner Valley cowboy poet Doris Daley with her new book 'That's a Good Answer.' (Tammy Rollie/Western Wheel)

An award-winning cowboy poet known for her skills at putting pen to paper acquired a little help from her friends in her latest publication.

Doris Daley spent the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic putting thought-providing, humourous and get-to-know-you questions to 50 of her friends before compiling their answers in the light-hearted, self-published coffee table-style book That’s a Good Answer.

“I found myself in early March with vast amounts of time and, looking ahead, who knew then how long we would be in this isolation mode,” she said.

With no entertainment gigs on the horizon after most public gatherings across North America were cancelled in light of the pandemic, Daley came up with the idea of a book.

“I’ve always felt that my joy in life, my great accomplishment in life, is my circle of friends,” she said. “A lot of my friends, maybe because of what I do with performing and writing, are clever and witty and funny and are good writers themselves. I had a whole bunch of people across North America who had time on their hands.”

Daley came up with a list of up to 50 questions, ranging from how to make a good pie to what’s the best advice your mother ever gave you?

“I wanted questions that touched on the everyday pedestrian life of going to work, working in the kitchen, going on a picnic, climbing a mountain, family life, social cultural values and some that had a more of a spiritual component,” she said. “I wanted questions that were just fun and playful.”

Some of Daley’s more practical questions were ‘Where is the prettiest place in Canada?’ and ‘What is the best book you read last year?’

Some of Daley’s friends answering just a few questions and a few answered all of them.

Daley made each question into its own chapter.

“That was a huge job,” she said. “You get 50 different people, some who use the Oxford comma, some who don’t, some who wrote in all caps, some who don’t know what a quotation mark is, and shovelling all the information into its appropriate spot and then going through it with a fine-toothed comb 20 times to get to the final edit.”

Wrapped up in 120 pages is the human condition, Daley explained.

“Some are funny, some are serious, some are lighthearted, some are reflective, some people were very transparent and vulnerable with their answers, revealing a little bit about their family life and where they are at in life,” she said. “I even answered some of my own questions and put in some little quips along the way. My personality is definitely all through this book.”

Daley, who has written several books of poetry, said this is her first attempt at publishing a book in a different style of writing.

“People see my name, they see me in a cowboy hat and say, ‘There goes a cowboy poet,’” she said. “I am, but my life is far bigger than that. This is me, Doris Daley, as a person, not just a cowboy poet.”

That’s a Good Answer teaches readers more about Daley including her secret talent, her biggest disaster in the kitchen and what she and God would do if sitting on a deck together.

“It’s a very entertaining read,” she said. “People will laugh out loud, shed a tear and stop and think, I never thought of the world like that before.”

Contributors include single parents, retired people, medical professionals, musicians, entertainers, a six-year-old child and a 90-year-old senior, said Daley. Half are Canadians, the other half American and about a dozen are from the Foothills.

“I wanted a whole cross-section of people,” she said.

That’s a Good Answer is available for purchase for $23.95 at Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond. It can also be purchased at the Sheep River Library where Daley works.

Tammy Rollie, OkotoksToday.ca

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Tammy Rollie

About the Author: Tammy Rollie

Tammy Rollie is a staff reporter at OkotoksToday.ca and the Western Wheel newspaper, focusing on Wheel's West, local arts and culture and entertainment. For story tips contact trollie@okotoks.greatwest.ca
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