I started to blog about cowboy poetry, but really what I want to say is, go here. Read this. Listen to the story, or scroll down to the bottom and read the transcript. Read the poems. Aren’t they beautiful? It’s a far cry from what we (or at least I) imagine cowboys reciting around the campfire.
For many students, poetry is dusty fare. Aside from song lyrics, they don’t encounter it in real life, and many have experienced poetry dissections that left the poor poem dead as a bio lab frog. I’ll bet you’ve had that experience, too. Perhaps for some students, thinking about cowboy poetry may bring a bit of the joy of poetry back to life—or at the very least, break some poetry stereotypes.
Now, I know all students will not identify with cowboys, either. But one of the wonders of cowboy poetry is that it celebrates and finds beauty in the ordinary moments of cowboy life. And, of course, it ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous.
What would happen if students wrote their own version of cowboy poetry about the ordinary places and tasks of their lives? What might be beautiful about high school poetry? Neighborhood poetry? After school job poetry? Certainly adolescent life seems likely to be full of topics that also span the sublime-to-ridiculous range. Your students could be just the people to write about them.
If you’d like to be inspired by some cowboy poets in action, here are two places to start—one with lovely images, and one just for fun.