Poem, poem on the range
Where the dudes and buckle bunnies all play
Where seldom is heard
A four-syllable word
And effete types should just stay away
Cowboy poetry isn't new: Back in 1908, Howard Thorp's Songs of the Cowboysrounded up ancient cowhands' more lyrical moments. But cowboy poetry will be very now when today's Cowboy Poetry Showdown brings together some of the state's best cowboy -- and cowgirl -- poets for a regular rodeo of rhymes and tall tales. "Each competitor is an accomplished cowboy poet with a plethora of talent and diversity," explains organizer Alma Aragon. "From the energetic style of Jay Johnson to John Nelson's style of fun and humor, the Showdown will offer spectators a wide array of storytelling styles." The fun's part of the Colorado State Fair's Western Heritage Days, a series of Old West activities running through September 1 that include a display of custom-made saddles, a ranch rodeo, chuckwagon feasts and a performance by former Coloradan Baxter Black, author of Croutons on a Cow Pieand other epics that have sold close to three-quarters of a million copies -- amazing even Black, who notes that the genre is now respectable. "Mostly, all of us ever want is for somebody to listen," he says. "Cowboy poetry is not competitive."
The Showdown, which is free with gate admission, starts at 5 p.m. on the Pepsi Stage in Family Park on the Colorado State Fairgrounds, 1001 Beulah Avenue in Pueblo. For a complete schedule of CSF events, call 1-800-444-FAIR or go to www.coloradostatefair.com. -- Patricia Calhoun