poMotion poetry

Get on your horse and ride— Cowboy Poetry is alive and well, up and around the bend

with 3 comments

Cowboy poetry is alive and well in the West. According to Wikipedia (You didn’t? I did.), “Cowboy Poetry grew out of a tradition of extemporaneous composition carried on by workers on cattle drives and ranches. After a day of work, cowboys would gather around a campfire and entertain one another with tall tales and folk songs. Illiteracy was common, so poetic forms were employed to aid memory.”

From what I can gather, most Cowboy Poetry is read accompanied by an instrument, but not all.

Cowboy Poetry Week is coming up, April 18-24, in celebration of National Poetry Month. (Sigh.) Still, those lonesome wranglers over at the Western and Cowboy Poetry Music & More at the Bar-D Ranch don’t mess around. In 2003, the group help pass a Senate resolution declaring the week of April 18, National Cowboy Week. The group is currently asking Governors and Mayors to get involved. Throughout the month of April, there’s Cowboy Poetry events from Tennessee to Washington, Alaska to Texas. The Western FolkLife Center has also packaged an array of multimedia Cowboy Poetry, and puts together an annual gathering for poets and musicians in January.

Check out the video: It sure looks like they know how to have a good time. Being an urban creature myself, it made me feel all fuzzy inside knowing that poetry and community was happening on this scale, out on the range…

Posted by Israel Bayer


Written by lickmypoetry

April 10, 2010 at 3:43 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Great link Israel! I went to a cowboy poetry gathering in Elko, NV once and there was some gritty good stuff there.
    My cowboy poetry favs – Baxter Black, Waddie Mitchell, Don Edwards, Ian Tyson. Some do cross easily into music. It reminds me of Leonard Cohen – captivating verse combined with beautiful guitar.


    April 12, 2010 at 9:36 am

  2. It looks like a blast. I’ll check the poets you mentioned. Maybe hit up a Q & A. Thanks.

    – Israel Bayer


    April 12, 2010 at 10:16 am

    • Here are some other cowboy poets you should look up: NEA National Heritage Awardees Wally McRae and Joel Nelson, Paul Zarzyski, John Dofflemyer, Linda Hussa, Henry Real Bird (Montana’s Poet Laureate), Vess Quinlan and so many more. Or better yet, come and experience what this genre is all about at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, January 24-29, 2011. You will be no doubt surprised and delighted.


      April 16, 2010 at 6:43 am

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