About Cowboy Poetry
“It always bothers me that so many people seem to think that cowboy poetry is nothing more than funny stories and bad grammar. Nothing could be further from the truth. Good poetry is good poetry whether it is “The Ballad of William Sycamore” by Stephen Vincent Benet, “Maud Muller” by John Greenleaf Whittier, or “Anthem” by Buck Ramsey. The story of an American experience is being related, and if it is well written it should be recognized. Humor has always been a great part of the cowboy poetry genre, but those critics who say that is all cowboy poetry is, need to dig a little deeper.”
– Chris Isaacs
Contrary to common belief, cowboy poetry does not actually have to be written by cowboys, though adherents would claim that authors should have some connection to the cowboy life such that they can write poetry with an “insider’s perspective”
Newcomers are surprised to hear cowboy poetry that is contemporary. Many poets tend to focus on the historic cowboy lifestyle, historical events and the humorous aspects of the cowboy life style. However, the work that cowboys do continues. The cowboy lifestyle is a living tradition that exists in western North America and other areas, thus, contemporary cowboy poetry is still being created, still being recited, and still entertaining many at cowboy poetry gatherings, around campfires and cowboy poetry competitions. Much of what is known as “old time” country music originates from the rhyming couplet style often seen in cowboy poetry along with guitar music.
Though it deals with those who work with livrstock and nature, it would be incorrect to categorize cowboy poetry as pastoral. Cowboy poetry is noted for its romantic imagery, but at no time does it sacrifice realism in favor of it.
Few examples of experimental verse are known in cowboy poetry. One argument is that cowboy poetry is meant to be recited and should “sound like poetry.” The counter-argument runs that imposing a particular structure on cowboy poetry would move the focus away from the subject matter. Regardless, most cowboy poets stay within more classical guidelines, especially rhyming verse. So-called free verse poetry is uncommon in cowboy poetry.
Excerpt from Wikipedia