Buckshot Dot is one of Rim Country’s hidden gems. Dot is the daughter of Anna Beth Strickland, an artist, poet, author and singer. Her father, Troy Strickland, was the 16th child in his family and he won medals in both athletics and singing. When asked what it is that refreshes her, Dot enthusiastically responds, “Singing ... it is a normal part of my life! I even sing as I am scrubbin’ my floors!”
She has lived in Payson since 1977 with her husband Ol’ Buck. Blue eyes sparkle as Dot speaks of her teaching and performing adventures with a quick wit and chuckle. Introducing her husband John, (Ol’ Buck), she grins and explains, “He is the man who carries my guitar and claps the loudest in the audience.”
The walls of their Payson home are covered with photos, awards, plaques, and mementos. She seems to find creative ideas for songs everywhere and is constantly jotting down notes for a song or poem. She writes original western poems and songs and puts them to her music. Many recognize Dot’s talent. She once opened for a performance of noted country singer Lyle Lovett and was named “Female Cowboy Poet of the Year” by the Academy of Western Artists. Her book, “Arizona Women: Weird, Wild and Wonderful,” filled with colorful tales, became the Western Music Association’s Cowboy Poetry Book of the Year in 2007.
Dot was born in Arizona on the Hualapai Reservation. She taught American history, free enterprise, drama, speech, English, and art in Arizona high schools as well as elementary, gifted and talented students in Arkansas. She explained that as a high school teacher, she had a difficult time keeping students interested in English and history. So, she once brought in her guitar and the students were fascinated by her stories set to music. Since then, she likes to focus on performance-based education. “People of all ages seem to enjoy the music and remember some of the history better.” She enjoys writing and illustrating western subjects in her books.
One of her early favorite poets was James Whitcomb Riley. She also cherishes Rudyard Kipling, Shakespeare and Leo Tolstoy. Dot is a perfectionist in all she produces and without hesitation pulls from memory her favorite quote, “Fool!” said my muse to me, “look in thy heart and write!” (Sir Philip Sydney).
She recalled one of her English professors presenting poems, later revealing Grace Noll Crowell, (a favorite author of Dot’s) was indeed his mother.
Her research is meticulous in the production and finalization of all her works, specifically her western poetry history. Her firm motto of “accuracy above all” is reflected on every page of her books. She is an avid reader, and also a lifetime learner.
Dot encourages aspiring authors and storytellers not to be upset by rejection letters, urging them to, “Keep at it!” She truly has followed her own advice since her first published poem at age 9 (which appeared in a national children’s magazine).
Dot treasures a family copy of an 1846 “shape note hymnal” that her grandfather Lee Strickland used to teach a congregation the lining it out method. Then, the congregation sang the songs back to him. Dot sings in the Community Presbyterian Church Choir, and continues to perform her original songs and poems throughout the Southwest.
This year, she is a headline presenter at the Payson Book Festival, which is scheduled for Saturday, July 21 in the ballroom of the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino.
Dot writes from a heart that has endured many tragedies and triumphs, all of it for a better purpose. Singing is in Dot’s family blood and everything she writes is absolutely Arizona positive.