Cowboy poetry is a form of poetry which grew out of a tradition of extemporaneous composition carried on by workers on cattle drives and ranches. After a day of work, cowboys would gather around a campfire and entertain one another with tall tales and folk songs. Illiteracy was common, so poetic forms were employed to aid memory. Contrary to common belief, cowboy poetry does not actually have to be written by cowboys, though adherents would claim that authors should have some connection to the cowboy life such that they can write poetry with an "insider's perspective". One example of a popular "cowboy poem" written by a non-cowboy is "The Ride of Paul Venarez" by Eben E. Rexford, a 19th-Century freelance author. Newcomers are surprised to hear cowboy poetry that is contemporary. Many people tend to focus on the historic cowboy lifestyle, but the work that cowboys do continues. The cowboy lifestyle is a living tradition that exists in western North America and other areas, thus, contemporary cowboy poetry is still being created, still being recited, and still entertaining many camp visitors around campfires and convention halls. Much of what is known as "old time" country music originates from the rhyming couplet style often seen in cowboy poetry along with guitar music. Cowboy poetry continues to be written and celebrated today. Baxter Black is probably the most famous, and possibly the most prolific, contemporary cowboy poet. Many cities in the United States and Canada have annual "roundups" dedicated to cowboy poetry. Cowboy Poetry week is celebrated each April in the United States and Canada.
Storytelling is the conveying of events in words, sound and/or images, often by improvisation or embellishment. Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation, and instilling moral values. Crucial elements of stories and storytelling include plot, characters and narrative point of view. The term 'storytelling' is used in a narrow sense to refer specifically to oral storytelling and in a looser sense to refer to narrative technique in other media. Storytelling predates writing, with the earliest forms of storytelling usually oral combined with gestures and expressions. In addition to being part of religious ritual, rock art may have served as a form of storytelling for many ancient cultures. The Australian aboriginal people painted symbols from stories on cave walls as a means of helping the storyteller remember the story. The story was then told using a combination of oral narrative, music, rock art and dance, which bring understanding and meaning of human existence through remembrance and enactment of stories. People have used the carved trunks of living trees and ephemeral media (such as sand and leaves) to record stories in pictures or with writing. Complex forms of tattooing may also represent stories, with information about genealogy, affiliation and social status.
With the advent of writing and the use of stable, portable media, stories were recorded, transcribed and shared over wide regions of the world. Stories have been carved, scratched, painted, printed or inked onto wood or bamboo, ivory and other bones, pottery, clay tablets, stone, palm-leaf books, skins (parchment), bark cloth, paper, silk, canvas and other textiles, recorded on film and stored electronically in digital form. Oral stories continue to be committed to memory and passed from generation to generation, despite the increasing popularity of written and televised media in much of the world.