Poetry News

The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is back

By Harriet Staff

Last year's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada became a bit of a political hot potato during the fraught budget talks of 2011. But they survived that little tempest in a tea party (er, pot), and now they're back for their 28th festival, which they describe as "the nation's greatest celebration of the American West, its people, culture, and traditions."

The gathering, which has drawn close to 6,000 participants in recent years, will take place January 30th to February 4th. There will be screenings of Western films, craft workshops on hat making, leather carving, and rawhide hobble braiding, along with readings by Baxter Black, Ken Cook, Doris Daley, and many more. In a recent article, Founding Director Hal Cannon talked about keeping up with the evolving nature of Western life over the years:

"Music has always been essential to the cowboy way of life [...] But the fact is, today's cowboys not only sing to their cattle as they herd them along but they also need to express in song what it has meant to their livelihood to share the range with dirt bikes, condo developers and coalbed methane exploration. At the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, we strive to present western music that is grounded in tradition, both celebrating the romance and the hard realities of the life. This Gathering is about ranching but at its heart it's about being a westerner in the 21st century, no matter whether you are urban, rural, young or not so young.

Find out more and see pictures of all the presenters, musicians, and poets in their (apparently mandatory) cowboy hats.

Originally Published: November 18th, 2011