Cowboy poetry is a form of poetry which 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.
Typical themes of cowboy poetry include:
- Ranch work and those who perform it.
- Western lifestyle;
- Landscape of the American and Canadian West;
- Cowboy values and practices;
- Humorous anecdotes;
- Memories of times and people long gone; and
- Sarcasm regarding modern contraptions and/or ways.
The 28th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the nation's greatest celebration of the American West, its people, culture and traditions, took place January 30 to February 4, 2012, in Elko, Nevada. Every winter for the last 27 years, cowboys, ranchers, rural and urban people have traveled en masse to this small high desert community, to join with friends, family and others who care about the rural West. Together, they listen to poetry and music, learn about cowboy culture in the U.S. and around the world, experience great art, watch western films, learn a craft, and gather to eat, drink and swap stories.
Each February, the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering – Texas Cowboy and Cowgirl poets, singers, musicians, and storytellers from all over prepare to converge on Alpine, Texas. All those invited to participate are working cowboys and cowgirls, ranchers and ranch hands.
Cowboy poetry continues to be written and celebrated today. Baxter Black is probably the most famous, and possibly the most prolific, contemporary cowboy poet. Many cities in the United States and Canada have annual "roundups" dedicated to cowboy poetry. Cowboy Poetry week is celebrated each April in the United States and Canada.
There are other Cowboy/Cowgirl events throughout the US and Canada held at different months of the year.
Interesting Links to follow for more detailed information: