Calgary was the Cultural Capital of Canada in 2012 when the Stampede hosted Aritha van Herk as Artist in Residence, providing her with a privileged insider’s view of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. Stampede and the Westness of West is the result of her unique insights, a prose/poetry book that is meditative, imagistic, historical and speculative while eliciting all the humour and joy and occasional critique that the Stampede demands. Stampede juxtaposes references to Siena and Shakespeare and the Vogelherd Cave, the history of pancakes, and the history of the word stampede alongside speculations on lust, love, fences and Guy Weadick. Van Herk points to one line that sums it all up: “Stampede. There is only one, and that is Calgary’s.” Then she quickly adds: “You never know why you love something, but when you do, you cherish its faults as much as its strengths.” The book, while not uncritical, is the kind of poetic meditation that the Stampede, in all its richness and variety, has long deserved.