by Jesse Bussard
Believe it or not, some cowboy poets are good at writing more than just poetry. Some give pretty darn good advice too. Baxter Black does just that in his latest book “Lessons From a Desperado Poet: HOW to Find Your Way When You Don’t Have a Map, HOW to Win the Game WHEN You Don’t Know the Rules, and When Someone Says It Can’t Be Done, WHAT They Really Mean is They Can’t Do It.” I know, long title, huh? It certainly took my whole breath to say it…
I recently finished his book that I received as a Christmas gift and thought I’d provide a brief review pointing out some of my favorite “lessons” that Baxter shares. Many of you in the agricultural community are familiar with his witty poetry and vivacious theatrical performances of ranch life. If you’re not, trust me, you need to be.
Baxter’s latest book is both a memoir of stories from his past and a how-to guide that includes 118 Lessons on how to carve a life out of thin air and live with yourself while doing it. He emphasizes always doing the right thing and not being afraid to try everything. Success in Baxter’s eyes, “does not take a genius; it just requires the persistence of a glacier.”
He walks you through the early years of his life, the trials he’s faced, and how he got to be as successful as he is today. The book is split up into three sections: How I Learned, What I Learned, and Why I Was Able to Learn. Wrapped within these three sections are valuable information ranging from how to get started in the book business, self-publishing, marketing outrageously, to ideas that didn’t work out so well that Baxter refers to as “spectacular belliflops.” This book is perfect for those with an entrepreneurial spirit and throughout Baxter emphasizes the importance of always doing the right thing, even if it costs you extra. Because as Lesson #104 states, “It’s not about how much you made, it’s whether they got their money’s worth.”
A few of my favorite lessons from the books were:
- Lesson #2: You will be amazed at how capable people think you are if they don’t know you well. Don’t waste that advantage.
- Lesson #6: It’s not that what he knew stopped him, it’s that what he didn’t know didn’t stop him.
- Lesson #15: There are people who profoundly change your life. Sometimes they don’t even know it.
- Lesson #20: Remember, often it’s not the ability, it’s reliability. The world is run by those who show up.
- Lesson #25: If you ever have the opportunity to keep from making a fool of yourself…take it.
- Lesson #34: Two pounds of persistence is worth ten pounds of talent.
- And Lesson #35: If you shoot enough arrows in the sky, some are bound to stick!
They’re are many more worth quoting, but I wouldn’t want to ruin the fun of reading the book for you. You’ll just have to go get a copy for yourself.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite performances by Baxter, his poem, “The Uterine Prolapse.”