Cowgirl
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National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering attracts thousands of poets, folklorists, musicians, dancers, and those who enjoy cowboy and cowgirl writing. They converge annually at Elko, Nevada, in late January for a six-day cowboy-themed event. Founded in 1985, it is produced by the Western Folklife Center. Events may be held in as many as seven different venues in Elko, a town with a population of approximately 20,000. Guests have a choice of approximately 35 hotels and other vacation rentals.

According to nationalcowboypoetrygathering.org, “The Gathering embraces its role as a pilgrimage destination for thousands of ranch folk and others who love the West and come to learn and experience art that grows from a connection to the rhythms of earth and sky. The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is six days of poetry, music, dancing, workshops, exhibits, conversations, food and fellowship, rooted in tradition but focused on today’s rural West.”

An example of a program schedule is here: https://static1.squarespace.com.

Elko is the third possible stop on our Nevada Author Adventures Trail, if visitors can schedule their participation at the time of the event. Otherwise, literary travelers can read about our other stop in Elko for writer Will James (the final Nevada trail stop) here: https://authoradventures.org/james-will. Don’t miss the Pony Express Cabin!

Elko’s Major Author: Thomas Detter

Elko was once the home of Thomas Detter (1830-1891), a significant book author, but there are no homes or workplaces connected to him remaining in Elko. Detter pioneered African-American literature in the West.

According to https://www.blackpast.org: “It was in Elko that he published Nellie Brown, or The Jealous Wife, with Other Sketches through a San Francisco printing firm. A collection of short stories and non-fiction pieces, Nellie Brown was ignored for many years, then rediscovered in the late 20th century, and is now regarded as one of the first works of fiction written by an African American in the U.S. West. More than just a literary artifact or curiosity, the collection has much to say regarding 19th-century American society, politics, and literature.”

Patricia Smart