Meeting Date: 20 July 2012

Prepared By: Sherrie Wight.


The Cowboy Poet

Each year for the past 28 years, a group of people have gathered to celebrate the heritage and traditions of the cowboy life, a vocation understood by few and shared by fewer. Elko, Nevada, USA serves as the home of the Western Folklife Center’s annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Though the origin of this event is based in a celebration of the American Cowboy, the commonality of the vocation that is shared by this select group of people around the world has drawn entertainers from many countries and continents including Brazil, Hungary, Australia, Mexico, Canada, Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales. It seems that no matter what you call them - csikos, vaqueros, jackaroos, stockmen – within each beats the heart of a cowboy. The entertainment at this event includes poetry, storytelling, and song and covers themes running the gamut from ranch work to new fangled contraptions. From poignant ballads to side splitting anecdotes, there is something for the cowboy in all of us.

One of the most famous of these Cowboy Poets is Baxter Black. Formerly a large animal veterinarian, Mr. Black eventually turned to writing and entertaining. This author of numerous books of poetry and fiction also hosts a weekly syndicated radio program and has a weekly syndicated newspaper column. Dubbed by the New York Times as “probably the nation's most successful living poet,” Baxter Black uses his talent to make others laugh.

Baxter Black – A Vegetarian’s Nightmare (3:22)

Baxter Black – The Uterine Prolapse (5:28)

Other cowboys take a more dramatic approach or recite classic western poetry written by others. On February 2, 2008, cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell delivered this rendition of "The Walking Man," a poem penned in 1914 by western writer Henry Herbert Knibbs (4:57).

For an overview of the event have a look at this video available at

National Cowboy Poetry Gathering Overview (6:23)

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