Tuesday, September 6, 2011

National Cowboy Poetry Gathering details are released.

Now yee haw, howdee and all that, you don't often associate cowboys with poetry - spitting on the earth and falling off the backs of bulls more like.

But I received a press release today for the 28th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering—the nation’s greatest celebration of the American West, its people, culture and tradition - which will take 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," the release says.

 Ticket sales for the 28th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering begin on Tuesday, September 6, 2011. Members of the Western Folklife Center, which produces the event, can purchase tickets that day, while non-members can purchase tickets one month later, on Thursday, October 6.

Programs at the 28th Gathering will focus on the southwestern United States, specifically Arizona and New Mexico—which are celebrating their centennials next year—and West Texas. The event will present poets and musicians from the region, as well as workshops and panel discussions focused on regional food, culture and agriculture. An exhibition of Southwest ranching culture featuring the photography of Kurt Markus and Jay Dusard will be on display in the Western Folklife Center’s Wiegand Gallery.

The 28th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering will feature nearly 50 poets, musicians and musical groups from the U.S., Canada and Australia, performing on seven stages at four different venues. The line-up includes cowboy poets Baxter Black, Wally McRae, Paul Zarzyski, Waddie Mitchell, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Joel Nelson, Doris Daley and many others.

Have I heard of any of these fellas - nope. But I guess there must be a market for this kind of thing. This sure is a new take on the moon, that source of much poetic inspiration over the centuries. In saying that I'm left rather cold by that whole leathery bottomed cowboy love among the cactus kind of thing. Don't get me wrong: I thought Brokeback Mountain was a great movie and I'm all for homosexuality in the movies. But the love scenes certainly made me feel a bit queasy.

 See here for more details.

The Bucking Horse Moon by Paul Zarzyski

A kiss for luck, then we’d let ‘er buck—

I’d spur electric on adrenaline and lust.
She’d figure-8 those barrels
on her Crimson Missile sorrel—
we’d make the night air swirl with hair and dust.

At some sagebrushed wayside, 3 A.M.,
we’d water, grain, and ground-tie Missile.
Zip our sleeping bags together,
make love in any weather,
amid the cactus, rattlers, and thistle.

Seems the moon was always full for us—
its high-diving shadow kicking hard.
We’d play kid games on the big night sky,
she’d say that bronco’s Blue-Tail Fly,
and ain’t that ol’ J. T. spurrin’ off its stars?

We knew sweet youth’s no easy keeper.
It’s spent like winnings, all to soon.
So we’d revel every minute
in the music of our Buick
running smooth, two rodeoin’ lovers
cruising to another—
beneath Montana’s blue roan
bucking horse moon.


  1. Well, I never heard of this cowboy poetry gathering and wasn't aware that the cowboy life was still so alive and well.

    I kind of like the images in this poem you have posted. My favorite was "we’d make the night air swirl with hair and dust." Nice, very nice.

  2. If the cowboy poetry is as good as the cowboy cooking (based on Zarzyski's poem it just may be) hand me a saddle, I'm in for the ride!

  3. Elko, Nevada? Oh boy can't wait to read your blog after you get home!

  4. yeess Daisy - not convinced myself. Is cowboy cooking good, Jayne? sadly I don't get to go Lidia, maybe not sadly..