More than just poetry
The 17th annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko
By ADAM TANOUS
Express Arts Editor
For 17 years now, Elko, Nev., has been more
than just a place to get gas or perhaps spend the night on a long car trip
between California and the Rockies. It has become a growing cultural
center with the annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering.
This 17th celebration of cowboy
poetry and Western life and culture takes place Jan. 27 through Feb. 3.
The bulk of the workshops, presentations and exhibits will be held at the
Western Folklife Center and the Elko Convention Center. The focus of this
year’s gathering will be on the ranching traditions of the Great Basin.
The poets slotted to participate include
Baxter Black, Wallace McRae, Randy Rieman, Virginia Bennett and Paul
Zarzyski. Wylie and the Wild West band will head up the lineup of the
musical entertainment for the week.
While the event began modestly in 1985 as
an informal celebration of cowboy poetry—a genre with very little
popular recognition at the time—it has since grown into a much broader
exploration of Western issues, songs, crafts and storytelling. To that
end, the event will include not only readings but workshops, panel
discussions, exhibits and musical performances.
Songwriter Michael Martin Murphey will
offer a workshop discussing lyric writing as applied to melody and
arrangement. Adapting poetry to music will be another topic for
William Mathews will present a lecture and
slide show on the use of watercolor in interpreting the cowboy of the
Great Basin. Leather Carving with Trajan Vieira will be another
Several "food" workshops will be
held, including ones on Mexican cooking, Polish-Italian treats, and
gourmet food on the trail.
The E.L. Wiegand Foundation is sponsoring a
series of workshops on the future of ranching. Topics include Financial
Planning for Ranchers, Managing in the Black and Diversifying Ranch
All in all, there will be very little
of Western life that will not be discussed or celebrated at this week-long
party. And while Elko might be more than a gas tank away from the Wood
River Valley, the trip will likely be worth it to anyone who lives in and
cares about the West.
Tickets for the event can be purchased by
calling (888) 880-5885, sending e-mail to email@example.com or by
writing: Cowboy Poetry Gathering Tickets, Western Folklife Center, 501
Railroad St., Elko, Nev. 89801.
The poetry and music of the event will be
broadcast live on the Internet at www.westernfolklife.org.