Cowboy Poetry Stokes The Flame

cowbpsAs critics have been bemoaning the decline of poetry and literary writers have been defending their small yet loyal audience, another trend has taken root at ranches, rodeos and country-and-western bars across America: the rise of cowboy poetry.

I was able to explore this trend last year when I was asked to judge the National Cowboy Hall of Fame poetry competition out of Oklahoma City. (The biggest cowboy poetry event, The Gathering — a convention that began in 1985 in Elko, Nevada — now attracts more than 8,000 poetry lovers, which may make it the largest annual celebration of verse in the world.)

Generally, cowboy poets don’t approach the …