Flashback Friday: The Outlaw Poet

Charles Badger Clark, named South Dakota's first poet laureate in 1937, had the spirit of adventure. Whether during his cowboy days on an Arizona ranch or at his personal writing cabin in the Black Hills, his surroundings served as an inspiration for his many works.

While primarily known as a poet, Clark also wrote prose. One of his more exciting accounts stems from a time he refers to as his "Cuban experience" in 1905, when his job on a sugar plantation turned into a stint in the Camaquey jail. Eventually, he was acquitted of “stealing coconuts and carrying a gun” and left Cuba for Deadwood, South Dakota where he chronicled his trial and tribulations. This experience also inspired his poem, “Over the Stern.”

Clark's story, poem, and illustrations appeared in South Dakota History (Vol. 7, No. 3) as "Badger Clark as 'The Prisoner of Camaquey'" edited by Richard R. Chenoweth. Learn more about his life and adventures at badgerclark.org.

—Amy C. Kucera

Badger Clark poses at the fireplace of his home, the "Badger Hole," located in Custer State Park.

Featured Image: South Dakota State Historical Society, Digital Archives