I’d like to share some thoughts on two events I attended Sunday in Seward, Nebraska. If you’re not familiar with Seward, it’s a wonderful town of 7,000 people in the southeast part of the state.
The Nebraska Writers Guild teamed up with Red Path Gallery and Tasting Room to host a poetry reading and discussion by Laura Madeline Wiseman and Charlene Neely. Since I’ll also be giving a talk at Red Path in April 23 (cheap plug!) I thought it would be a good idea for me to swing by and scout out the room, sample some fine Nebraska-brewed beer, and listen to some poetry.
Now if you know anything about me, you know that poetry is so totally not my thing. But you’ll also know that I like to keep an open mind, and support my fellow Nebraska writers.
And I’m glad I did. The two started out by reading a few of each others poems, which was really cool. Both read in a friendly, casual, and sometimes silly manner. And they were never boring, and certain never to “artsy fartsy” for my tastes.
The room was full and the poets stuck around a bit to mingle with guests and have some snacks. It was a really nice event and if you’re close to Seward, you should check out the gallery sometime. I’ll even make it easy for you and share Red Path’s event schedule.
And while we’re on the topic of cool things to do in Seward, they’ve got a great independently-owned bookstore, Chapters Books & Gifts. Just before the poetry readings at Red Path, Chapters hosted a talk and signing by professor and journalist, Joe Starita. Joe was there to discuss his recently published book on Susan La Flesche, A Warrior of the People: How Susan La Flesche Overcame Racial and Gender Inequality to Become America’s First Indian Doctor
I attended Joe’s talk as well, and it was really interesting for a couple of reasons. First off, from his Amazon bio, Joe was the New York Bureau Chief for Knight-Ridder newspapers and a veteran investigative reporter for the Miami Herald. His stories have won more than three dozen awards, one of which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for local reporting. For the last twelve years, he has held an endowed professorship at the University of Nebraska’s College of Journalism. The Dull Knifes of Pine Ridge won the MPIBA Award and received a second Pulitzer nomination. He is also the author of “I am a Man.”: Chief Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice.
In other words, he’s a writer who has been around the block a few times.
This talk was also interesting to me because up until then, I had never heard of Susan La Flesche, and to be honest, my knowledge of the Omaha Tribe in the late nineteenth century is, shall we say, lacking.
For his talk, Joe spoke mostly about Susan herself, how she influenced history, and how her story is still relevant today. He also shared a little about his research for the project, and then signed copies afterward.
All in all, both of these events were well worth attending. I was thoroughly impressed by the professionalism displayed at both locations, and the number of people (both writers and non-writers) attending. Every chair was taken at both events, in fact.
It was also good for me as a writer to step outside of my comfort zone for a bit and experience talks and readings by other (far more successful) writers in genres I’ve never even attempted. I think it’s a healthy thing for all of us to do every now and then.
Finally, I’d like to close out by saying how great it is that Seward has businesses like Chapters and Red Path that are so open and willing to help support the local writers and artists. If you’re in Nebraska, I encourage you to stop by both places and thank them for being so awesome.
And if you don’t live near Seward, check out your own local bookstores and art galleries. You never know what kind of talent you’ll find unless you go looking.
Thanks for reading, and if you’ve got any cool local galleries or bookstores you’d like to give a shout-out too, leave a comment and let us know!