Baxter Black : biography
Baxter Black (born January 10, 1945) is an American cowboy, poet, philosopher, former large-animal veterinarian, and radio and television commentator.
Black grew up in Las Cruces, New Mexico. He was trained as a large-animal veterinarian at New Mexico State University and Colorado State University, but began writing and speaking in the early 1980s. Black left his veterinary career soon afterwards, and since has published over a dozen books of fiction, poetry, and commentary. He is a regular commentator for National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, and also hosts a syndicated weekly radio program, Baxter Black on Monday and writes a syndicated weekly newspaper column, "On the Edge of Common Sense."
He currently resides in Benson, Arizona, in the Eastern part of the state.
Black’s views on cowboy poetry
Baxter Black claims that cowboy poetry has saved Western music. Black states in an interview, "Well, every singer you can name outside of The Riders in the Sky, probably wouldn’t be making a living if it wouldn’t be for the poetry gatherings. The poetry gatherings saved Western music and gave it this renaissance that it’s had…However, there is no chance for a cowboy poet. You know, if you could name five of them that make enough to buy a car, then you’d be doing good." Cowboy poetry isn’t something a person does for a living, rather you come to an event and are a part of it. Poets read their work and might get their expenses paid for. The difference in what a singer and a poet make is a noticeable difference.
Black believes that good writing can come from anywhere but if you’re going to tell a tale about cowboys, "you’re going to have to know what you’re talking about. On the other hand, my whole way of looking at it in the Cowboy Poetry deal is, anybody is welcome." His inspiration is gathered while being on the road. Out of the numerous jobs he has a year, each one of them has a story, whether it is from the journey to and fro or the people encountered. Since he is a cowboy, he feels he can tell stories about them. When he uses them as an idea in his poetry, he’s poking fun at himself. From a personal standpoint, Black uses his humor to get his message across. (Black, B)
If Black has learned anything from his speaking, it’s that, "And I did find this out: There’s something magical about a poem. It immortalizes." The stories told by Black don’t have the authorization to be altered, and because of that the characters spoken in the lines have become immortal. (Black, B)
This type of poetry isn’t meant to be a competition, due to the small community of Cowboy poets.
Baxter Black’s radio career was something he actually stumbled upon. He’s a man that plays life by chance, and he took one when sending some of his work into a radio station. Black specified in an interview, "It was the year Yellowstone caught on fire, 1988. We were listening and they didn’t have any coverage to speak of, and it was a huge deal in our life. It was a huge deal in Colorado (where I lived) and the sky smelled like smoke and I had this big tumultuous poem about range fire…So I sent them this. I just sent it to "Public Radio" in Washington D.C. And two or three days later I get a call back." (Black, B)
Black’s commentary, poetry, and fiction writings come from his personal life experiences which makes his writing unique. His work is often compared to Will Rogers because of the quality.
Poetry has an infinite number of ideas and themes to it, but in Baxter’s writing a few are to take notice. Black comments in an interview, "…I believe in life after death, and I believe in telling people about it, if I think they need to be exposed, or I would like to expose them." (Black, B)
Life as a cowboy play a big part into writing this kind of poetry. Although, this doesn’t mean a person has to be or live the life of a cowboy to write this type of poetry.