Lonesome Dreamer: The Life of John G. Neihardt

Jon Cerny, right, president of the Neihardt Foundation board, presents me with the 2017 Word Sender award at the Laureate's Feast in Omaha. | Photo by Norma Farrens

Jon Cerny, right, president of the Neihardt Foundation board, presents me with the 2017 Word Sender award at the Laureate’s Feast in Omaha. | Photo by Norma Farrens

I received the 2017 Word Sender award at the annual Neihardt Laureate’s Feast in Omaha on November 12, for my biography Lonesome Dreamer: The Life of John G. Neihardt. Jon Cerny, president of the Neihardt Foundation board, graciously introduced me and read a letter of congratulations from Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts. My daughter, Leah Stanton, of Reston, Virginia, my mother, Pat Anderson, of Oakland, Nebraska, and my wife, Nancy, and I sat with two of John Neihardt’s grandchildren, Coralie Hughes and Robin Neihardt. Several newspapers wrote stories advancing the feast, including the Omaha World-Herald and the Fremont Tribune.

celebrateOn October 21 I spoke to “A Celebration of Nebraska Books” at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska. The event, which celebrates the One Book One Nebraska selections, also serves as the announcement of this year’s Nebraska Book Award winners.


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The largest book club I'd ever encountered enjoyed a fine lunch before my talk on September 19.

The largest book club I’d ever encountered enjoyed a fine lunch before my talk on September 19.

I spoke before my largest group yet on September 19 when I address the Eclectic Book Club luncheon held at the Field Club of Omaha. One-hundred members attended, plus 20 guests. A great organization devoted to reading.

The audience listens as I trace John Neihardt's work with the Omaha through his early short stories. | Photo by Frankie Hannan

The audience listens as I trace John Neihardt’s work with the Omaha through his early short stories. | Photo by Frankie Hannan

A large group turned out for another installment of my “Walking With a Dream” talk at the Bellevue Public Library on August 17. Beautiful library, well-read attendees.

We had a fine turnout at the storytelling conference.

We had a fine turnout at the storytelling conference.

The views of the Missouri River from the park are terrific.

The views of the Missouri River from the park are terrific.

I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of “150 Years of Nebraska Storytelling” August 6-8 at Ponca State Park. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and all the co-sponsors did a great job. I joined such luminaries as Twyla Hansen, Ron Hull, Jeff Barnes, Karen Shoemaker, Preston Love Jr., Neil Harrison, J.V. Brummels, and David Hendee.

Sustainable? At least for 45 minutes inside the air-conditioned Hub Cafe.

Sustainable? At least for 45 minutes inside the air-conditioned Hub Cafe. | Photo by Bridget Barry

It was a typically warm afternoon when I prepared to speak at the 2017 Nebraska Book Festival on Saturday, July 15. While most of the days speakers stood outside in the sun, by 4:30 it was decided to move the day’s final speaker–me–inside the Hub Cafe. So, with one glass of water and another of iced tea, I was able to talk about “The Soul-Change of John Neihardt.”

The Journal of Folklore Research offers its review of Lonesome Dreamer.

The event in Grand Island gave me another opportunity to give my "Walking With a Dream" talk.

The event in Grand Island gave me another opportunity to give my “Walking With a Dream” talk.

On June 6 I spoke to a great group of readers at the Grand Island Public Library. They were interested in learning how John Neihardt came to write Black Elk Speaks and what the experience of meeting Nicholas Black Elk had meant to Neihardt. Another terrific library.

The scene during my opening address, left. Right, the four speakers at this year's spring conference: back row, Paul Hedren, left, and me; front row, Charles Trimble, left, and Jerome Kills Small. | Photos by Nancy Anderson, Norma Farrens

The scene during my opening address, left. Right, the four speakers at this year’s spring conference: back row, Paul Hedren, left, and me; front row, Charles Trimble, left, and Jerome Kills Small. | Photos by Nancy Anderson, Norma Farrens

We gathered in Bancroft on April 29 for the 36th annual Neihardt Spring Conference. I was happy to lead off a day of interesting looks at this year’s topic, “Lakota Lives: Discovery Through Biography.” Delphine Red Shirt was unable to join us, as planned, but Paul Hedren, author of “Powder River: Disastrous Opening of the Great Sioux War” and “After Custer: Loss and Transformation in Sioux County” among many others, ably stepped in at the last minute. In the afternoon session we  heard from Charles Trimble, who talked about his memoir “Iyeska,” and Jerome Kills Small, who explored the life of Charles Alexander Eastman. Another great day.

It was a new challenge to try to explain John Neihardt's life and career to a group of students who were born 30 years after he died. | Photo by Scott Cotton

It was a new challenge to try to explain John Neihardt’s life and career to a group of students who were born 30 years after he died. | Photo by Scott Cotton

I met with Maggie Deschaine’s Literary Journalism class at Lincoln’s North Star High School first period on April 26. Alyx Knight, North Star’s school librarian, had created a fine arrangement of Lonesome Dreamer and Black Elk Speaks, as well as other materials, and the class was attentive and asked good questions. A great way to start the day.

I met with the Prairie Readers Book Club in Lincoln on April 19. Faye Moulton and Weston Crawford and all the rest of the members made me feel welcome, and we had a spirited discussion of Neihardt’s life and work.

Omaha's Happy Hollow Club, where I enjoyed explaining the story behind "Black Elk Speaks."

Omaha’s Happy Hollow Club, where I enjoyed explaining the story behind “Black Elk Speaks.”

On April 5 I spoke to Karen Linder’s book club (and member’s invited guests) at the Happy Hollow Club in Omaha, Neb. A beautiful setting, tasty hors d’oeuvres and stirring questions from a group who had just read “Black Elk Speaks” made for a wonderful evening.

The Six Corners event in Norfolk was the second of six such gatherings. Still to come, on the first Sundays of the month, are Bellevue, McCook, North Platte and Kimball.

The Six Corners event in Norfolk was the second of six such gatherings. Still to come, on the first Sundays of the month, are Bellevue, McCook, North Platte and Kimball.

I was at Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Neb., on April 2 as part of one of the Six Corners of Nebraska events. Like the other writers on the program, I read from my book and manned a table where attendees could stop by and chat and/or buy a book. Sponsored primarily by the Nebraska Writer’s Guild, the gathering was a Nebraska 150 Commission Signature Event, one of six being sponsored throughout the state.

If you haven't yet visited the Francie & Finch Bookshop in Lincoln, you need to stop by. It's at 130 S. 13th St.

If you haven’t yet visited the Francie & Finch Bookshop in Lincoln, you need to stop by. It’s at 130 S. 13th St.

On April 1, Lincoln’s newest book store, the lovely Francie & Finch Bookshop, invited me in to talk and autograph copies of “Lonesome Dreamer.” It was a great afternoon, complete with great questions from those who stopped by. Biggest surprise was meeting a woman who is friends with a man with whom I was in a writers group in New York City.

This historical marker, just outside Ravenna, Neb., commemorates the site of Fort Banishment, an outpost of Fort Kearny. But it didn't last long: It was established in 1865, and only six years later nearby settlers used the log stable and barracks for firewood.

This historical marker, just outside Ravenna, Neb., commemorates the site of Fort Banishment, an outpost of Fort Kearny. But it didn’t last long: It was established in 1865, and only six years later nearby settlers used the log stable and barracks for firewood.

March 20 found me at the Ravenna Senior Center in Ravenna, Neb. First, I joined a discussion of “Black Elk Speaks” with a book club, then spoke to the luncheon crowd about how the book came to be. The lunch was wonderful, too: Six ounces of liver, coupled with what must have been six ounces of onions.

There's nothing like driving into a Nebraska town and finding you're being advertised as coming soon.

There’s nothing like driving into a Nebraska town and finding you’re being advertised as coming soon.

On March 16 I visited the Neligh Public Library in Neligh, Neb., as a speaker for Humanities Nebraska, discussing the life of John G. Neihardt. The library is a jewel, and I was able to meet the father of a former student.

Talking about Nicholas Black Elk's and John Neihardt's preparations for their cooperation on "Black Elk Speaks" in 1930-31. | Photo by Kelsey King

Talking about Nicholas Black Elk’s and John Neihardt’s preparations for their cooperation on “Black Elk Speaks” in 1930-31. | Photo by Kelsey King

On March 1 I traveled to the Crane Trust in Wood River, Neb., for the kickoff of its Wednesday writers series. (An additional benefit of speaking at the Crane Trust is that you get to stick around and visit a blind at sunset from which you can view the cranes.)

I met with the Heritage League Book Club in Lincoln on February 21 at the home of Barbara Reynolds. We discovered that the daughter of one of the club members might have bought a copy of John G. Neihardt’s All Is But a Beginning at the same 1972 event as I did.

Laurie Richards invited me to address the members of her Lincoln book club on February 15. We had a great time talking about Lonesome Dreamer, John Neihardt and the current state of journalism in the United States, all while drinking and dining. A grand time.

We gathered in front of an informative display on the works of John G. Neihardt after my talk in the Heritage Room of the Bennett Martin Library in Lincoln.

We gathered in front of an informative display on the works of John G. Neihardt after my talk in the Heritage Room of the Bennett Martin Library in Lincoln.

On February 1 I spoke at Bennett Martin Library in Lincoln about John G. Neihardt’s sense of alienation growing up in small-town Nebraska. The library has done a fine job of presenting Neihardt’s works.

The Bookworm in Omaha is a great independent book store, and the people there had set aside a nice corner of their store for a gathering to hear me go on about writing my book. | Photo by Nancy Anderson

The Bookworm in Omaha is a great independent book store, and the people there had set aside a nice corner of their store for a gathering to hear me go on about writing my book. | Photo by Nancy Anderson

I enjoyed talking about Lonesome Dreamer at The Bookworm in Omaha Saturday, September 24. Longtime friend Cindy Wolfe Denton showed up with her daughter and grandchild, and former grad assistant Charlie Litton and his wife, Jen, and their two children also dropped by. (Plus some people I didn’t know!)

The Lincoln Journal Star reviewed Lonesome Dreamer on Sunday. Sure felt like a rave to me.

Inscription loresIn the fall of 1972, I was a journalism student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and John Neihardt was enjoying the recent publication of the first volume of his memoirs, All Is But a Beginning. On a crisp afternoon that fall, he inscribed a copy of his new book to me.

 

Though the OLLI open house was mostly about the fall courses, there was also good food and music.

Though the OLLI open house was mostly about the fall courses, there was also good food and music.

We had a great turnout last Sunday for the open house for the fall OLLI–Osher Lifelong Learning Institute–session. I enjoyed explaining what my Neihardt class would include and was able to meet a few of the people signed up for the class, which begins Sept. 6. And I sold some books.

 

Indigo Bridge Books, 701 P. St., #102.

Indigo Bridge Books, 701 P. St., #102 in Lincoln.

Barnes & Noble, 5150 O St. and SouthPointe Pavilions, 2910 Pine Lake Road.

Barnes & Noble at SouthPointe Pavilions, 2910 Pine Lake Road in Lincoln.

Barnes & Noble at 5150 O St. in Lincoln.

Barnes & Noble at 5150 O St. in Lincoln.

I have to say it’s gratifying to stop at Lincoln’s bookstores and see my book on the shelves. Indigo Bridge Books in the Haymarket still has a few autographed copies, and Barnes & Noble is now stocking it.

 

Autographing books at Indigo Bridge Books in Lincoln's Haymarket on August 13. | Photo by Reynold Peterson

Autographing books at Indigo Bridge Books in Lincoln’s Haymarket on August 13. | Photo by Reynold Peterson

We capped a week devoted to University of Nebraska Press titles at Lincoln’s Indigo Bridge Books on Saturday, August 13. Among those stopping by for a book and conversation were Nebraska state poet Twyla Hansen, author Mary Pipher, and Kay Young, whose parents, J.D. and Myrtle, traveled to Lemmon, S.D., in 1923 to help John Neihardt erect a monument to Hugh Glass and later opened their home to Neihardt when he returned to Lincoln in the 1960s.

 

Autographing a book while being interviewed by the Omaha World-Herald's David Hendee | Photo by Nancy Anderson

Autographing a book while being interviewed by the Omaha World-Herald’s David Hendee | Photo by Nancy Anderson

Neihardt Day 2016 at the Neihardt Center in Bancroft, Nebraska, focused on the unveiling of a long-awaited sculpture of John Neihardt and Black Elk, created by sculptor Herb Mignery. I spoke on “Preserving Neihardt’s Story” and autographed books. The Omaha World-Herald and the Norfolk Daily News covered the event.

The New York Daily News, through the artistry of David Krajicek, makes the first public mention of Lonesome Dreamer on January 2, 2016.

 

 

Then what of the lonesome
dreamer
With the lean blue flame in his
breast?
And who was your clown for a day,
O Town,
The strange, unbidden guest?

“The Poet’s Town”
John G. Neihardt