“Doc was Georgia’s Official Cowboy Balladeer,” said Lisa Wheeler, director of education for the Booth. “It was a goal of his to keep the tradition of cowboy poetry alive in today’s students. He had spearheaded this program [since its inception], and it had grown tremendously through the years. We hope to honor his legacy by being able to award the Doc Stovall Memorial Award to this year’s deserving students in the cowboy poetry division.
“The purpose of the contest is to give students who are interested in creative writing an outlet for their work and to reward those students with cash prizes. We publish the work on our website, [so they receive] recognition from winning the contest and it gives them a reason to keep writing and to keep growing in their creativity.”
Using the skills needed to meet the Georgia Performance Standards for Language Arts, students in grades six through 12 will need to compose and submit an original narrative poem, cowboy poem or short story by Feb. 1 at 5 p.m. The contest, which will be open to students attending public or private schools or homeschooled programs, will be divided into two divisions based on age: grades six to eight and ninth to 12th.
After their submissions are judged, Bankers Fidelity Insurance Co. will present a total of $2,700 in cash prizes in every age division and category for the first through third place winners. The prize winners will be named during the Booth’s annual Southeastern Cowboy Gathering on March 9.
Along with having the opportunity to compose an original literary work for the competition, students also are introduced during the school year to cowboy poetry through the Booth’s Writing Through Art program in which youth find artistic inspiration for their writing and complete literary exercises.
This year, the Writing Through Art Literary Contest will be preceded by a cowboy poetry writing workshop at the Cartersville Public Library — 429 W. Main St. — Jan. 17 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Featuring a couple of cowboy poets, the free offering will provide students in grades 6 through 12 an introduction to the literary creations and the tools needed to pen an entry for the Booth contest.
“It’s really amazing to be able to team up with the Booth because they have so many great programs that inspire kids through art,” said Thomas Shalin, youth services coordinator for the Bartow County Library System. “I know they have their new Emerging Artists programming, which inspires kids through different sorts of mediums. And then the writing program, it just kind of also goes hand-in-hand too with what we do here and that’s inspiring kids through literature and reading.
“... It’s just really neat to be a part of this. It’s really a great exercise too because the students, they look at the art, they’re inspired by the art and they’re able to take that through the contest and come up with something new based off it to express themselves in the story structure or in a poem.”
To sign up for the workshop, contact Wheeler at 770-387-2490 or LisaW@boothmuseum.org. For more information on the literary contest, visit www.boothmuseum.org/educators/writing-through-art/.