Manhattanites keep Cowboy Poetry alive

Published: Jun. 15, 2018 at 11:45 AM CDT
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Cowboy Poetry allows poets reflect on the lifestyle of cattle ranching and western tall tales told around a campfire.

The 2018 Kansas cowboy poetry competition held on June 8th at the Discovery center brought competitors from all over Kansas.

The competition keeps Manhattanites competing year after year.

“Rules are for other people, at least that would seem the case,” recited Kansas Cowboy Poetry State Champion Tim Keane-- who took first place at this year’s competition, in the humor category.

The K-State professor draws his inspiration from his life’s experiences.

“I grew up doing farm work, ranch work, and construction work so I’ve been around these kind of folks ever since I was 9 or 10. I’ve always admired cowboy poetry,” said Keane.

He doesn’t want the art of cowboy poetry to vanish.

This is the second year in a row Keane has taken first place and the runner up--- she never wanted to be a cowboy.

Betty Burlingham took second place in the humorous category in the competition.

“I certainly never expected to be a cowboy I have a degree in molecular biology and I was working at Duke University,” said Burlingham.

Burlingham met her husband and became a full-time rancher. Now she enjoys telling stories through poetry.

“It’s so much fun to actually write the poems and get them ready and share them with the audiences and community and friends.

"There are some stories of things that really happened to us that are just so bizarre; I’ve told the stories for years and years but I like to tell them in poetry now,” explained Burlingham.

Keane doesn’t want the art of Cowboy Poetry to vanish and enters the competition every year.

“It keeps that genre of poetry alive. It keeps it from drifting away and being forgotten,” said Keane.

These poets hope to keep the lifestyle alive one poem at a time.

Winners of the competition received a certificate from Gov. Jeff Colyer and Lieutenant Gov. Tracy Mann presented them with buckles.