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For the week of January 24 through 30, 2001

More than just poetry

The 17th annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko

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 discussion.

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 offering.

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 Income.

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 protected] 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


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