That’s right, pardners — in case you didn’t know, it’s officially Cowboy Poetry Week. While everyone’s in a tizzy about Ginsberg and Bishop, the very popular and very active Cowboy Poetry movement is just moseying along, doing its thing during National Poetry Month as well. Celebrating the history, culture and character of the Old West and cowboy lifestyle (insert tired Brokeback Mountain joke here), the genre’s following is surprisingly dedicated and widespread. To read more about cowboy poetry or sample some poems, check out The Wyoming Companion’s Cowboy Poetry Gathering page. There’s an interesting archived story (from the NY Times, even) about the cowboy poetry phenomenon here and you can listen to some colorful and heartfelt cowboy poetry audio at the Western Folklife Center website. There are even large gatherings of cowboy poets during several festivals and roundups held around this time of year. While the Cowboy Music & Poetry Roundup in Denver is already over for 2006, you can still read this enlightening interview with cowboy poet Baxter Black, which shows that, through all styles, backgrounds and approaches, maybe all poets are pretty much the same after all:
“You can discuss subjects in a poem that otherwise you’d have to avoid,” he said.
“Like, you never criticize another man’s dog. Even if he’s chasing your cows and making a mess, you’re just kind of stuck. You can’t say, ‘Bill, your dog’s the dumbest dog ever.’ But in a poem, you can make a generalization and then it has a universal application — and then Bill will read it and tell you, ‘Yeah, I know a guy like that.'”
Black also has a collection of columns on everything from politics to social situations on NPR.
So break out your spurs, practice your cowboy lingo and plan to lasso some poetry of the Old West during Cowboy Poetry Week.