Wanted: The sharpest young poet in the West

(Photo: Screenshot)
<p>Randi Johnson won the 2014 public competition at the Expressing the Rural West: Poetry of the Next Generation contest.</p>

The Western Folklife Center, based in Nevada, is launching a YouTube-based competition for emerging poets aged 18-35 aimed at carrying on the tradition of cowboy poetry.

“We know there are many poets in this age group who are writing and performing poetry,” David Roche, executive director of the Western Folklife Center, said in a press release. “They are the future of the tradition.”

Winners will be announced in late December, the center explains:

Poets are invited to submit videos which include an artist introduction and do not exceed four minutes in length. Submissions may not contain curse words or explicit imagery and must be original compositions. Content should have a rural focus and poems should be performed and not read. Poets must be currently living in one of the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Poems will be judged by the public as well as by a committee of two professional poets and two staff members of the Western Folklife Center. There will be a winner of the public vote and a winner of the juried competition. The winner of the public vote will receive two free 3-Day Deluxe Passes to the 31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and a free Gathering poster. The winner of the juried competition will be given a performance slot at the event and must be able to travel between January 28 to February 1, 2015. Travel and lodging will be paid by the Western Folklife Center.

Randi Johnson won the public vote at last year's inaugural contest -- watch her performance above. And here's the winner of last year's juried content, Forrest Mackey: