Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 1:00 pm
"No man but a blockhead," Samuel Johnson famously observed, "ever wrote, except for money." This is tough news for poets, since the writing they do is often less immediately profitable than a second-grader's math homework (the kid gets a cookie or a hug; the poet gets a rejection letter from The Kenyon Review). Poetry itself is tremendously valuable, of course, but that value is often realized many years after a poem's composition, and sometimes long after the end of its author's life.
Lisa Higgins, director of the Missouri Folk Arts Program, poses in her office on April 22, 2013. Tiny cowboy boots decorate Higgins' workplace. The folk arts program helps fund the annual Missouri Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival.
Listen to this week's Health & Wealth Update to preview the upcoming Missouri Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival in Mountain View, Mo. The event kicks off Friday, April 26.
If you think all cowboys are of the rugged, silent and stoic Marlboro Man type – think again. Some cowboys write poetry.
Every year since 1998, for a weekend in April, a group of cowboy poets Missouri and its surrounding states gather in Mountain View, Mo., near West Plains. They spend three days in town, usually from Friday to Wednesday, giving poetry performances, playing folk songs, telling classic cowboy stories. The gathering, also known as the Missouri Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival, is one of the largest of its kind in the Midwest.
Craig Roberts teaches plant science at the University of Missouri. But he also has another passion: music. He’s spent the past few years helping with a new project – a book of Christian hymns entitled “Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs.” If you appreciate poetry, there’s a good chance you’ll like this.
Looking at the big picture, hymns have always been an important part of church life -- at least, according to Mark Noll. He teaches history at Notre Dame University. He’s also co-edited books on the history of hymns in American Protestantism.
Poet Marc McKee received his MFA from the University of Houston and his PhD from the University of Missouri, where he lives with his wife, Camellia Cosgray. He is the author of What Apocalypse? (2008). McKee will celebrate the release of his new full-length book of poetry, Fuse, 7 pm Saturday at the Columbia Art League with Melissa Range.