Cowboy Poets (1988)

About the 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.


  • Cowboy Hall of Fame, National Educational Film festival, Golden Apple


For licensing, film rights and permissions, contact Kim Shelton, the distributor Kim Shelton, or Folkstreams.