It’s big in Colorado. It’s big in Nevada. It’s quite big elsewhere too – the Economist reports that there are more than 200 readings of cowboy verse this year in the US and Canada:
The rise of the cowboy poet coincides with the virtual disappearance from popular culture of another Western figure. Hollywood used to churn out dozens of films a year about square-jawed gunslingers. It now produces almost none, and there is currently no new Western series to be found on broadcast television or basic cable. But the departure of the heroic cowboy has opened some room for gentler, more reflective voices. Although it is growing, their audience is smaller: unlike Western films, cowboy poetry is mostly produced by Westerners, for Westerners.Hey, if writing poems about horses is good enough for Bill Manhire, not just once but twice. . .
It is no less romantic for that. Cowboy poems are filled with horses, campfires, strong coffee and strong women — what writer Wally McRae calls “things of intrinsic worth”.