How real-life experiences contribute to cowboy poetry

How real-life experiences contribute to cowboy poetry

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by Brian Holmes

Bio | Email | Follow: @KTVB

Idaho's NewsChannel 7

Posted on May 18, 2011 at 6:10 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 30 at 2:43 PM

WEISER -- In the Weiser area, fiddles and cowboy poetry seem to go together like meat and potatoes.

It has become a staple of the western cowboy lifestyle and it is created by those with a working knowledge of life on the range.

In order to write cowboy poetry you have to have lived the lifestyle of the working cowboy.  Just you and your horse for hours on end in the middle of nowhere.

It seems to lend itself to a lot of solitary thinking and talking to yourself.

You mix in a few metered words that rhyme and you have yourself some cowboy poetry.

Larry Barnum is one such cowboy who has done just that.

On a ranch just outside of Weiser, Larry Barnum tends to his animals.

Along with the hungry goats, he even has a couple hundred head of cattle.

Larry is used to larger ranches because ever since he graduated from high school in Caldwell he wanted to be a cowboy.

Larry spent a lot of solitary time on horseback all over Idaho, Oregon and Nevada.

"Being out on the range all the time, there's nobody to talk to other than horse and dogs and yell at the cows once in a while," said Larry.

So he started penning poetry. But, he has not exactly written them, but instead, memorized them.

From his first one twenty years ago, to the one he wrote to woo his wife, over the years he has composed nearly 40 poems.

He has his favorites but one is closest to his heart. When Larry was still in his 20s and still chasing cattle across Nevada, he and his trusted horse Buck had to make a jump across an abandoned mine shaft, which Larry says was more than 30 feet wide.

Larry landed in the dirt. Buck was hanging over the bank.

"I was pulling and hollering with all of my might, 'Come on, Buck!' I lost Buck that day, the bank gave way," Larry said.

It is times like those that Larry says triggers the creativity.

Larry says he has always wanted to take his work to a cowboy poetry contest but he just has not had the time to do so, since he is always working on the ranch.

 

 

 

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