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James F. Hoy

English Professor, Author, Poet

James F. Hoy was born in the Flint Hills area and grew up on a stock ranch near Cassoday, Kansas. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Kansas State University in 1961; a master’s degree from Emporia State University in 1965; and a doctoral degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1970. Hoy taught in the El Dorado schools and in Idaho before joining Emporia State’s English department, where he served as chair for 10 years. In 1990, he resumed teaching full-time as an English professor at Emporia State. Hoy has served on the Kansas Historical Foundation Board of Directors since 1992, on the Foundation's executive committee for many years, and as president from 1999 to 2000.

Hoy’s research includes medieval English literature, Western American literature, Australian Outback folklore, and Great Plains folklore, with emphasis on the folklife of ranching. He has published several articles and books, including the weekly newspaper column Plains Folk and the book Flint Hills Cowboys: Tales of the Tallgrass Prairie.

Hoy and Dena Kleinsorge organized a cowboy poetry gathering in Strong City in 1989. Hoy served as master of ceremonies for the program. Participants were all cowboys who wrote and delivered their own poems, including Wilbur Countryman and Jack Hurlburt, Tom McBeth, and Jerry Wright. At this event, Hoy first read his poem “Elmer’s Advice.”

The following is an excerpt from “Elmer's Advice”

Some horses pitch, some just hop, and some will flat-out buck;
It helps to know whic
h one does which, not just rely on luck.
Now Elmer Cooper was an old-time hand who could ride anything with a hide.
If he said, "Why, anybody can ride hi
m," you could get right on and ride.
But you better take a good strong hold, deep down in your old saddle tree,
If Elmer shook his head and drawled, "Well, he never has thrown me."

Entry: Hoy, James F.

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: April 2012

Date Modified: December 2017

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.