Uncommon paths meet at HPL
Cowboy turned poet; football player turned author. Uncommon paths sharing a common destination: Hastings Public Library in April!
R.P. Smith, a real, working cowboy, is moseying off his Pine Crest Ranch near Broken Bow to share his brand of poetry and country commentary, April 19, with a Hastings audience. David Kolowski, former UNL Husker lineman and the author of a new tell-all book, will score the extra point with local fans when he speaks at the library, April 7. Both writers promise to deliver outstanding programs.
I asked R.P., what led him to rhyme out there on the prairie? And wouldn’t you know it, this cowboy poet (ahem) answered me poetically!:
“I was inspired, what more can I say, and as I reflected back on my day. My greatest accomplishment, viewing it now, was selling one-frothy-eight, a fence-crawling cow. So I put pen to paper and wrote down a tale, of a wandering cow and fences that fail. It wasn’t the best and it wasn’t the worst, what made this story special is that it was the first.”
Defining “cowboy poetry,” R.P. also said, “It is usually rhymed and metered but there are folks who do free verse and of course the subject matter will relate to either the western lifestyle or livestock.”
Thirty-eight of his delightful poems are collected in his first published book, “A Ride Through Rhyme.” I especially enjoyed “The Living Legacy” about a tree with more than 80 rings under its bark; planted by his grandpa and appreciated by three generations of cowboys.
The host of a weekly radio show broadcast from his ranch, R.P. claims cowboy poetry is often better when it is heard than when it is read. He has produced a number of audio recordings, one, “Early Riser,” is a CD collection of his first three cassettes, containing 35 poems ”stocked as heavy as we could get,” he says. The library has this CD and his book in its inventory. All of R.P.’s work will be available for purchase and signing at his presentation. Tickets for his performance are available now at the library.
“Cowboy poetry” actually is so popular it has its own designation in the library’s card catalog. If R.P.’s work entices you to search that subject heading, you’ll find other fun offerings. Of course, NPR’s Baxter Black, the most well-known cowboy poet, has numerous books at the library.
“Cowboy Poetry, Turning to Fact the Wind,” by Jane Ambrose Morton won the Will Rogers Medallion Award and covers nine decades of true stories of ranch living. Her collection contains photos, touching essays and clever story-poems about western life, from root cellars to cottonwoods.
Omaha native and former Husker offensive lineman, David Kolowski, is the author of a best-selling new book, “Diary of a Husker.” What began as a personal journal for Kolowski, turned into an emotionally-charged book about one of the most powerful football programs in the nation, during the controversial Solich years.
The perennial Husker dynasty came crashing to an end during these years with head coach Frank Solich (1998-2002) and culminated with all the coaches being fired in 2003. Grueling practices, intense year-round training schedule and off-field bad-boy behaviors are part of Kolowski’s five-year, behind-the-scenes look at the true life of a college football player as well as the slow, steady decline of a once-powerful football empire.
Check out this fascinating book and come meet and hear Kolowski deliver some winning points at the library, 2 p.m. Saturday, April 7.