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Making The Film

Cowboy Poets

Film by Kim Shelton
Produced by Kim Shelton, Bill Jersey
Cinematographer: Emiko Omori, John Knoop
Sound: Doug Dunderdale, Jamie Kibben
Editing: Yasha Aginsky
Copyright: 1988, Kim Shelton
53 minutes, Color
Original format: Film: 16mm, 1988
Distributor: Kim Shelton
More Film Facts
Home streaming only. For other permissions apply to Kim Shelton or to the distributor.


Preview one minute trailer - Comment on film


American cowboys have been writing poetry for more than a century. This little-known literary tradition both belies the macho image of the Western Heroes and serves as an imaginative form of oral history.Cowboy Poets travels to the big sky country of Nevada, Montana, and Arizona to explore the tradition and to introduce three working cowboys and the poetry they write about the lifestyle and land they love. Cowboy Poets profiles three cowboy reciters, Waddie Mitchell, Slim Kite and Wally McRae, representing three different aspects of the cowboy-poetry tradition. Waddie Mitchell is a young working cowboy who runs a small ranch in northern Nevada; his flashy buckaroo clothes show the world that he is proud to be a cowboy. Slim Kite is a retired cowboy of the old school. He believes that there is no more cow-punching, not the way he learned it. His poems, all learned from other reciters over the past sixty years, connect him with generations of cowboys and the way of life he loved. Wally McRae is a third-generation rancher in northern Montana, a gentleman-philosopher, who uses his considerable poetic gifts to make personal statements about continuity within the ranching community and the strength of cowboy traditions under siege in the modern world.

A fitting tribute to the oral tradition with which these men keep their family histories alive...A masterful job of blending the poetry and the lives of these men.
--- Terry Orme, Salt Lake City Tribune

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