SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A film dedicated to South Dakota’s first poet laureate is being released Thursday night.

“Badger Clark: Poet Among the Pines” is an hour-long program produced by Sioux Falls filmmaker Brad Dumke.

“He loved to be in the solitude of Custer State Park living alone, without electricity or running water, just alone in his cabin with his own thoughts, yet he adored the public,” said Dumke.

“People in South Dakota love him. He was a rock star back in the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s in South Dakota. In fact, one of the folks we talked to said he was the godfather of South Dakota,” said Dumke.

The Filmmaker and owner of 1856 Media admits he didn’t know much about Badger Clark before this project, but he’s amazed at what he’s learned. Badger Clark is considered by many to be the first Cowboy Poet. One of his best-known poems is called “A Cowboy’s Prayer” which was featured in the film. The poem is printed at the end of this story.

The film not only introduces us to Badger Clark but to the beauty of the state he loved. As Poet Laureate Clark spent much of his time in a cabin in Custer State Park with no electricity and no running water. It was common for his fans to show up at the cabin unannounced.

“He was such an interesting guy because he loved being alone, but yet he loved his fans,” said Dumke

The film project came about because of Bob Christianson and a group called the Badger Clark Poetry Club.

“So we carved out the third Wednesday of every month and we’d meet and we’ve been doing that since 1996,” said Christianson.

Bob’s son Brooks was part of the group, he died unexpectedly of pneumonia in 2021 and the film was funded through the memorials given his his name. Bob saw the movie for the first time at a screening last night.

“I thought my son would really love it. I think it was a great tribute to him. I was a little nervous ‘Well what’s this going to feel like am I going to start crying? am I going to, whatever,’ but it was just so well done,” said Christianson.

“I wanted to make sure that Bob, the society, and Brooks would have been proud of this film and also Badger, this is a film I think Badger Clark deserves too,” said Dumke

Badger Clark, Poet Among the Pines runs Thursday at 7 pm, 8 central on South Dakota Public TV, it will be available online after that. Clark’s cabin is preserved in Custer State Park and you can visit it during the summer season.