The Nebraska Poetry Pen Pal Program is Off to a Great Start in Valentine!

Valentine, you waterfall city, you beauty on the Niobrara, you poet-feeding wonder!

I rolled into Valentine with poets Zedeka Poindexter and joe fromLongIsland for the first stop of the Nebraska Poetry Pen Pal Program this past Monday. We spent the day at Valentine High School, meeting with some pretty wonderful students and teachers, reading poetry, answering questions, geeking out about some poetry at a full school assembly and then several different classes through the day.

We had a break which included lunch at the Coach Light Inn and a waterfall visit, both of which were stunning. The coach light had one of the best burgers I’ve ever had (Cream cheese, pepper jelly and bacon on it? Why, yes, that sounds delightful), what has to be the finest pie in the region (peanut butter pie? Sour cream and raisin? Lemon Meringue? Don’t mind if we do… ), and then the hike down to Fort Falls just outside of town was just what I needed after such a lunch.

In the evening, we had another great meal at the Peppermill and a reading at the Valentine Public Library, a place I think joe wants to move into for the fireplace and the conversations with some of the best librarians around.

We had a warm reception at the school and the reading, we really felt honored by how well Valentine treated us and how the students engaged us in really wonderful conversations. Even a stop at the Dollar Tree proved magical as, when the clerk asked what we were in town for and we answered “Poetry,” he lit up and ended up playing me a recording of a song he wrote with lyrics that knocked me out and talent on the guitar and drums.*

Valentine, thank you. We all want you to adopt us.

Thank you, Academy of American Poets and the Mellon Foundation, Humanities Nebraska, Valentine Public Library (especially you, Anne Quigley), and Valentine High School for making this possible. Thank you, too, Niobrara Lodge, you treated us well!

*=Bonus Track: The musician I talked to at the Dollar Tree said to look for him at Apple Music. When I did, I found this (it’s not the song he played me but you still get the sense):