The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Cowboy poet, comic charms fans in Zorn as Forum speaker

Rounds of laughter echoed through Zorn Arena as cowboy poet Baxter Black shared his stories, filling the evening with his comedic poetry and commentary about living a cowboy life.

“I am now armed,” Black said, as he took the microphone at The Forum Monday night in Zorn Arena during his show, “Horseshoes, Cowsocks & Duckfeet: An Evening of Cowboy Philosophy.”

An ex-large animal veterinarian, Black said he became a cowboy poet and comic because of a lack of anything else to do. The company where he was working as a veterinarian laid him off, so he began speaking.

Black has been on public radio since 1998, beginning the year Yellowstone National Park burned and the whole West was covered with smoke. Black didn’t think the fire was receiving enough coverage, so he wrote NPR in Washington, and they played his piece. NPR called Black afterward and asked him if he had anything else.

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“I make a living shooting arrows in the sky, and that was an arrow,” Black said.

He has appeared on many TV programs, including “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” public broadcasting shows and at agricultural functions.

He can also be found nationwide in more than 100 newspapers with his weekly column, “On the Edge of Common Reason.” Black also has many audio and videotapes and has written several books.

But for all his fame, Black said he still respects UW-Eau Claire’s The Forum Series because of all the well-respected people who have spoken.

“For me to be included is no small thing, and I don’t take it lightly,” he said.

He discussed everything from stories about roping to Rocky Mountain Oysters to cowboy romance in his Forum presentation.

One of Black’s poems was about a typical cowboy wedding.

“All the usual suspects lined up behind the groom. The smell of cheap tequila rose from their side of the room . all victims of the night before’s farewell to bachelorhood,” he recited.

Sophomore Amanda Lonsdorf grew up with Black’s work but had never heard him speak until Monday.

“It was better than what I expected,” she said. “I never realized what kind of a character he was.”

Lonsdorf said it was interesting from an academic standpoint as well. His talk allowed her to see how oral stories help people react to situations better, she said.

People were laughing and poking each other throughout the show, she said.

Elise Kallenbach, a sophomore at UW-Baron County, also thought the show was great. She has heard him speak before, owns his CDs, listens to his stories and enjoyed the show, she said.

A question and answer session followed the event, in which audience members thanked Black for coming to Wisconsin and expressed how much they enjoy the work that he does.

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Cowboy poet, comic charms fans in Zorn as Forum speaker