Cowboy poet Baxter Black has made a name for himself as one of the great philosophers of the American West. For over 25 years, Black has traveled the U.S. and Canada, spreading western gospel to rural and city folks alike.
In 1987, the former veterinarian joined Tonight Show host Johnny Carson to perform his poem, “A Vegetarian’s Nightmare.” The poet of the plains begins his “Dissertation on Plant’s Rights” by citing a study that claims that plants can feel pain. Black then launches into a brutal tale of savagery and violence involving legumes. The poem features the homespun wit and wisdom you’d expect from a man who’s written books with titles such as “Horseshoes, Cowsocks and Duckfeet” and “Croutons on a Cow Pie.”
Black’s role as a commentator for NPR’s Morning Edition has made him a beacon of cowboy culture and rural living.
The New Mexico native’s radio career began after he noticed a lack of media coverage on the 1988 wildfire at Yellowstone National Park. Determined to bring more attention to something that had an incredible impact on the life of so many westerners, Black sent a poem about range fire to the public radio station in Washington D.C. His words struck a nerve, setting Black’s career as a radio personality in motion.
In the video below, Black pays tribute to something we can all appreciate: duct tape. The wordsmith explains the all encompassing power of the product in a rancher’s daily life.
Black spent his college days on the rodeo circuit and proudly doesn’t own a cell phone. When asked how you know if you’re a cowboy, he adheres to a simple philosophy: “You either are one or you aren’t. You never have to decide.”