Elk River Arts & Lectures presents Spring 2016 featuring Paul Zarzyski, Russell Rowland and Laura Pritchett
Cowboy poet, recording artist and former bareback rider Paul Zarzyski will bring his wild words to Livingston for a free reading on Thursday, March 17, at 7 p.m., at Elk River Books as the kick-off of Elk River Arts & Lectures’ spring 2016 lecture series.
The 2005 recipient of the Montana Governor’s Arts Award for Literature, Zarzyski has performed at the annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada for the past 30 years and has toured Canada, Australia, Wales, England and Russia. He has recited his poetry at the Kennedy Center and the Library of Congress, performed with the Reno Philharmonic and the Spokane Symphony, and was featured on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. He studied with renowned poet Richard Hugo in the 1970s at the University of Montana, where he received an MFA in creative writing and later taught Hugo’s classes after his passing. During the same period, he began competing on amateur and professional rodeo circuits, riding bareback broncos—an activity he has often compared to writing poetry.
Following the reading, Zarzyski will be on hand to sign copies of his latest book of poetry, Steering With My Knees. A spoken word and music cd of the same title will also be available.
Billings author Russell Rowland has taken a detour from writing novels to travel to every county of the state to explore its past and present. The resulting book, Fifty-Six Counties: A Montana Journey, will be the subject of a free reading and book signing on Thursday, April 21, 7 p.m., at Elk River Books in downtown Livingston as part of the Elk River Arts & Lectures spring series.
Rowland spent a year studying and exploring his home state, from the mines of Butte to the pine forests of the northwest, from the stark badlands of the east to the tourist-driven west. Along the way, he considered our state’s essential character, where we came from, and most of all, what we might be in the process of becoming.
“I have a secret to share with you,” he writes in the book’s introduction. “It’s about this whole Montana mystique.”
Rowland’s first book, In Open Spaces, was called “a novel of muted elegance” by the New York Times. It was followed by two High Plains Books Awards finalists, The Watershed Years and High and Inside. He is also co-editor of the anthology, West of 98: Living and Writing the New American West.
Pritchett’s novels and environmental writing have received numerous awards including the High Plains Book Award for Stars Go Blue, called “a brilliant novel, filled with heartache and humor” by Library Journal. She is also the recipient of the PEN USA Award, the WILLA Award, the Colorado Book Award and the Milkweed National Fiction Prize. She has also published more than 100 essays and short stories in magazines such as O Magazine, Salon, High Country News, The Sun and Orion. She holds a PhD from Purdue University and teaches at workshops around the country.
Her latest novel, Red Lightning, is a suspenseful and poignant story of a woman facing her demons in the midst of drug and immigrant trafficking, an abandoned daughter, a dying mother and the largest wildfire in Colorado history. Rick Bass calls it “a smart, tender, crisp piece of work about the opportunities for redemption and blessings that exist in every hour.”