Expressing the Rural West: Poetry of the Next Generation

Forrest Mackey by Charlie Ekburg sm

"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race."   --   John Keating, Dead Poets’ Society

The Western Folklife Center is seeking contributions to our 2nd annual spoken word poetry contest, Expressing the Rural West: Poetry of the Next Generation, now through January 1, 2015. Poets between the ages of 18 and 35 are encouraged to upload video recitals of original poetry, along with an introduction or artist’s statement at the beginning of the video.

View or download a detailed list of competition guidelines.

We hope to inspire you to write about rural life in the West and to share your words with others at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. Poems will be judged by the public as well as by a committee of two professional poets and two members of the Western Folklife Center staff. There will be a winner of the public vote and a winner of the juried competition, unless both the public and the judges vote on the same poem.

The winner of the public vote will receive two free 3-Day Deluxe Passes to the 31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and a free Gathering poster. The winner of the juried competition will be given a performance slot at the event and must be able to travel between January 28 to February 1, 2015. Travel and lodging will be paid by the Western Folklife Center. The winners will be notified via email or on their YouTube page.

To submit your video for consideration, upload it to your own YouTube page and tag it with “2015 Youth Poetry Competition or "2015 Cowboy Poetry Competition.” For more information and to see other tagged video submissions, visit, or contact Darcy Minter, Communications Director, Western Folklife Center, 775-340-4240 or .