February 12, 2024 newsletter (morning)

Sent via email

Monday, February 12, 2024

Howdy everyone!

A cowboy poetry gathering is known for music, poetry, humor, tall tales, and maybe even some true stories. The Gathering wants to hear even more true stories this year, as we partner with the Veterans History Project (VHP) of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center to collect and preserve the stories of the many military veterans among us.

Established in 2001, the Veterans History Project began as a repository for oral history recordings of war veterans. It has expanded to include many types of original sources (like diaries, letters, artwork, and photographs) and to include stories from Gold Star families. With over 10,000 digitized collections after its first ten years and many more since, it has provided background for numerous important books, documentaries, movies, and audio programs. As Gathering board member Karen McGuire said, "The voice of the veteran is the only way we can get the true history of life in the military, the battles, and what happened at home while they were away. These are the men and women who were there, and that's why we need their stories. They're a gold mine."

If you are a veteran, from any era, your story is important and should be shared with family, friends, fellow veterans, and future generations. Experience has shown that it can be easier to begin telling these stories in an environment like a cowboy poetry gathering, where we are all swapping tales and experiences. Col. Karen Lloyd (ret.), former director of the Veterans History Project and Gathering board member, will assist with this process, along with several veterans who have helped others tell their stories in poetry, prose, and audio- and video-recorded oral history interviews. This is a project that has been successful in other venues for several years, and we are excited to bring this opportunity to the Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Karen Lloyd during her career as a US Army Aviator

Vess Quinlan, noted poet and Gathering board member, said, "It is cathartic talking and writing about a life-changing experience." He continued that what the Gathering is offering "is not a writing workshop. But it can be thought of as an enabling project to encourage telling the stories now or in the future."

Col. Lloyd interviewed attendees at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada for several years. David Richmond, now a Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering board member, described what happened. "Between Karen's engaging personality and the fact she was a female veteran (career officer), she was able to break the ice. Her first time there, she demonstrated how easy it was to do an interview. The interviewer(s) do a pre-interview to find out about anything the veteran may not want to talk about. Two people do the interview - one to keep track of the time and to make notes about the content of the interview. The other person then does the actual interview in front of other veterans in the room. Karen brought two smart phones and two lapel mikes. The smartphone recorded the interview. Our first interviewee was a young Marine just back from Afghanistan. It blew everyone's mind. The dam just broke. We had many Vietnam veterans volunteer for interviews along with other veterans of the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan."

Bill Jones, Col. Lloyd, and Vess Quinlan with a veteran after his interview

Facilitators will be available in the Morelock Building on the SRSU campus (Rooms 108 and 113) from 9:30-11:30 AM and 1:30 to 3:30 PM both Friday, Feb. 16 and Saturday, Feb. 17. These rooms are on the bottom floor of the building, and are accessible by the elevator (from the Marshall Auditorium level), or the entrance underneath the concrete front steps. Participating veterans will receive a copy of their interview on a thumb drive. All veterans keep the copyrights to their own stories and can control their use if selected for a commercial project.

One example of a veteran's story in poetic form

Learn more about the Veterans History Project from the Library of Congress.

All the best,
Kay and Gene Nowell
Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering

P.S. Get your tickets for this weekend (Feb. 15-17). See you this week in Alpine!

P.P.S. We rely on individual members to provide a foundation of support to make the Gathering possible. With around 40 paid poets, musicians, and storytellers, it's a huge undertaking and an exciting experience. If you're already a member, thank you!! If you're not yet a member, can you consider it? Membership starts at $6 per month.

Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering
February 2024

Board of Directors
Elizabeth Baize, Fort Davis
Robbie Burns, Alpine
Marian Freeland, Alpine
Bill Jones, East Tennessee
Karen Lloyd, Alexandria, VA
Karen McGuire, Alpine
Kay Nowell, Alpine
Gene Nowell, Alpine
Vess Quinlan, Alamosa, CO
David Richmond, Lindrith, NM
Chris Ryden, Midland, TX
Jim Street, Alpine
Parick Sullivan, Fairfax Station, VA

Event Producer
Bob Saul, Fort Worth

Film Production and Advisors to the Board
John and Erika Moore, Durango, CO

Advisors to the Board
Rachel Barrett, Alpine
Jim Goodnight, Dallas
Andy Hedges, Lubbock

Mailing address:
Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering
P.O. Box 1076
Alpine, TX 79831


back to list of newsletters