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Live cowboy poetry again visits Philip

Modern western poets and songwriters ... Entertaining an audience of over 100 in Philip, September 30, were cowboy poets Jay Snider (left) and Ken Cook (center) and songwriter/singer Kevin Davis.

What started last school year as a local guest speaker for the Philip High School junior English class transformed this year into a three-person evening's worth of entertainment for the general public.

The Thursday, September 30, cowboy poetry reading and songwriting performance was held at the American Legion Hall in Philip. The show, entitled "This One's for the Cowboys" featured returning poet laureate Ken Cook, along with poet Kevin Davis and writer/singer Jay Snider. The event was sponsored by this year's Philip High School senior English class instructed by Laura O'Connor.

O'Connor's students were enticed into the art of western poetry by Cook's classroom visit last spring. This year that literary appeal was shared with the public. "It's amazing to see students and adults alike so engrossed in such a wonderful literary program," said O'Connor.

Philip High School senior Tomilyn Trask said, "It was fun to be able to put on a show for the community that everyone enjoyed and interacted with." Senior Clint Nelson said, "It was fun and humorous for all ages." Jennifer Stangle said, "People from all over the country enjoyed this show! I knew people from Minnesota, Toronto and New Jersey who had never experienced anything like it before, and they had a marvelous time. I'm so glad Mrs. O'Connor contacted Ken Cook last year."

After a brief, and humorous, history of how she and Cook, a resident of Martin, arranged the first class time visit, O'Connor told how the three men were arranged for this year. Cook started off with a little history of why he writes. Though not mentioning their own honors and awards, each entertainer's accomplishments were listed by O'Connor and by the other two men as each took their turns in front of the microphone.

Each artist performed a session using their top works. Cook's selection was easy, he had let the students choose, and he began with the poems Kill this Cow and Dad, We'll Rope Today.

Davis, from Oklahoma, spoke in a country baritone, though sang bass, while accompanying himself with his guitar. "I'm just using my God-given talent. It's all a gift from God, you just get to use them," he said.

First praising his partners, Snider then displayed his own brand of cowboy poetry and humor.

A social time of coffee and cookies got the audience and the three men together on a one-to-one level. The evening then continued with a round robin series of three or four selections from each man.

Cook, Academy of Western Artists poet of the year, said, "It was sure a good show in Philip ... and a great bunch of folks."