ELKO – “Every breath we take must be given back...,” “Like a flower that refuses to grow…,” “My recognized face still mortal…” These deep and thought provoking phrases were presented by teens Wednesday at the Western Folklife Center during the Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

The G Three Bar Theater was filled with friends, family and adoring fans to hear six teens rehearse poetry and a father-son duo sing folk songs.

The night started out with a personal introduction by one of the Gathering’s professional poets, Randy Reiman, and immediately followed with the performance by Gabe Iguban.

Iguban started the night off with a solemn poem that captured the audience. The silence among the spectators intensified as Iguban addressed the crowd.

“I have just come down from my father,” was the final recited line by Iguban, which brought the audience back to life with a deafening cheer.

Iguban was followed by the musically inclined father-son duo, 14-year old Calvin and his father R.W. Hampton.

As R.W. Hampton played the guitar, Calvin Hampton sang a song telling the story of the battles a soldier encounters when he comes home from war.

Calvin Hampton stunned the audience with his surprisingly low tone and his miraculous ability to hold every note.

Mackenzie Leishman was the next performer, and as this wasn’t her first time on the stage, she was sure to impress.

She told a story that started out funny, about the idea of women wanting to be pretty. Pretty, then rich, but always pretty. The poem took a surprising turn from humorous to thought provoking as the first-person telling continued to enrapture the audience with the knowledge that the girl wasn’t ”pretty” and had many visible flaws, so her mother put her through surgery to “fix” her.

Following the surgery she saw herself in the mirror, but it wasn’t her. She was pretty, but she wasn’t real. She had “no idea how to wear fulfillment.”

The next teenager to perform was Cache Black. His low tone drew the audience into his poem. He recited line-by-line with perfect pronunciation and timing.

Olivia Howe was a different performer than the others. She drew the audience in with her gestures and made the spectator feel like she was talking specifically to them. She told the story in a way that was meaningful with every single breath drawn.

Joel Nelson said the next performer, Mikayla Dimick, also wasn’t new to the stage, because this was her second year performing at the Gathering.

She immediately brought all eyes to her when she made a joke about the microphone. She had a way about presenting her poem that kept the audience enticed and focused on every last syllable that passed through her lips.

The last poem was read by Tessa Overholser. She told a story of a young child who faced an indefinite hospital stay, but always had a positive attitude and smile upon his face.

Iguban, the Hamptons, Leishman, Black, Howe, Dimick and Overholser were positively delightful and completely deserving of the standing ovation that they received.

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