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There is so much talent all around us that we don't have to stray very far to find it. Often we have access to local artists, and if you check your newspapers, you can see how easy it is to connect. My home is in the great southwest and I recently had the opportunity for the second time to listen to the tales recited by a sure-as-shootin' Cowboy Poet. His name is Bud Strom (pictured here) and he has all the requirements. Weathered looks, jeans and hat (and rope and spurs) and that voice, drawling out from beneath the mustache and squinty, smiling eyes. His stories tell of the romance of life on the ranch, and show a deep love of family, country, and wide-open spaces. (but don't forget his horse and dog and hat!) I got a signed copy of Bud's book "Dry Lightening" at the performance. It is printed locally and wouldn't be easy to find everywhere, but there are plenty of other options out there, too.
Cowboy Poetry Festivals are a pretty big deal where the poets gather at various locations to share their stories.
You can get a sampling of different styles in a collection from "Cowboy Poetry : A Gathering" by Hal Cannon . These selections are some of today's and yesterday's finest. You can almost smell the sagebrush and campfire in them.
Or with "Cattle, Horses, Sky, and Grass: Cowboy Poetry of the Late Twentieth Century". Warren Miller, editor of this collection, founded the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering in 1998.
"Blazin' Bloats and Cows on FIRE!" is one of dozens of books by Baxter Black who is very well-known in this genre. A former veterinarian, he now makes a living with his palette of stories that he shares in books, newspapers and on NPR.
And then, if you're at all like me and can't help but sway to western music, you might enjoy "Git Along, Little Dogies: Songs and Songmakers of the American West" by John I. White, Austin E. Fife. It's full of facts, lore, and music by writer and cowboy singer John I. White (1902-1992)
But for right now I'm getting acquainted with Cowboy poetry, songs are another story...