Nesselhuf among top cowboy poets

Nesselhuf among top cowboy poets has officially named its 11th Lariat Laureate, and "8 Seconds" � winners in a global competition on the Internet's premier Cowboy Poetry site. This popular folk form celebrates and honors ranching and rural life.

Jack Sammon of Lithgow, Australia, was recognized as Lariat Laureate for his poem, Looking Back, which considers the challenges and rewards of a stockman's life. Sammon was born and raised on cattle stations in the north of Australia and has worked as a stockman (the equivalent of an American cowboy). Commenting on the inspiration for his winning poem, he says, "I realized that here could be a old cowboy somewhere in the west of the U.S.A. or a old gaucho from the Pampas of Argentina. No matter where cowboys come from, they all have a love of the life they lived ?" Australia's long tradition of "Bush Poetry" is shared and celebrated by American cowboy poets.

The "8 Seconds" finalists are Janice Gilbertson of King City, CA; Michael Henley of Cabot, AR; Jim John of Wichita, KA; Joyce Johnson of Mt. Vernon, WA; Paul Kern of Sandy, UT; Eric Lee of near Prescott, AZ; Ed Nesselhuf of rural Burbank; and Stan Tixier of Eden, UT. serves as a central resource for Cowboy Poetry, with a comprehensive collection of classic and contemporary poetry and other features in an on-going "virtual gathering" of amateur and professional cowboy poets from around the world. The site has been featured by Parade Magazine, Good Housekeeping, USA Today, and other publications; commercial and National Public Radio; and has received print and Internet honors and recognition.

The Big Roundup, an award-winning anthology of poems from the site published by New West Library, received the Will Rogers Medallion Award and the Buck Ramsey Best Poetry Book Award from the Academy of Western Artists.

Nesselhuf's poem was inspired by a trip to a buffalo roundup in Custer State Park, and it describes what a buffalo hunt might have looked like prior to 1870. Nesselhuf was born and raised on the prairies of southeast Colorado. He has been a Lutheran pastor for 30 years and is executive director of Prison Congregations of America (PCA). He says, "Cowboy Poetry is a way to link modern generations to a culture and way of life that gets beyond the romanticism of the 'Western movies.' "

Many of the finalists draw on their own experiences. They pay tribute to the places where they are rooted and to their ranching and pioneer families, with an eye to the challenge of the future. Important Western values are expressed through their words.

More information about each of the poets and more poetry is available at CowboyPo

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