Thursday, July 21, 2011

I Ain’t No Lady Gaga

Nathan Bransford, a writer and former editor who now works for CNET, writes one of the most-read blogs in the publishing business. He visited the Pikes Peak WritersConference in Colorado Springs a couple years ago. That’s where I met him.

 Earlier this week he wrote about Self Promotion, how hard it is and why we have to do it anyhow. It’s like eating spinach. You hate it but it’s good for you. It’s a great article. You can find it at

 He’s right. Every time I sit at my computer to write my blog I cringe. I know I’m going to have to send emails to all my friends and acquaintances. I’m sure many haven’t bothered to read my ramblings. They might not even open my emails. I know I feel uncomfortable sending them. I hate to bother them by promoting myself. I ain’t no Lady Gaga.

 But Nathan’s article got me to thinking about one of the Characters I knew as a kid.
Rufus L. Porter was known as The Hard Rock Poet. He came to Cripple Creek in the early 1900’s to work in the mines. He loved to write poetry. The Robert Service type. Lots of meter, plenty of rhyme telling stories of mining, miners and gold. He wrote about Dynamite Dan and Marshall Mike McKinnon .

 I got to know Rufus at my father’s service station. I remember how dad reacted every time Rufus showed up. “God, not him again.” He loved Rufus but hated to see him come. Dad knew he was in for thirty minutes of hot air. I remember dad hiding in the grease pit one time and making my mother visit with Rufus.

 Rufus had self-published his poetry and short stories in three small five and a half by eight and a half soft bound books. He sold them wherever he could, including at our station. You could find them in every restaurant, grocery, drug store and gift shop from Cripple Creek to Colorado Springs.

 Rufus made regular visits to make sure nobody ran out. He sometimes wore bib overalls and always a miner’s hard hat as I remember. He was in every parade in Cripple Creek, Victor, Woodland Park and Colorado Springs leading a donkey bearing the sign “Hard Rock Poet.” He’d peddle his books along the parade route. He had creative ways of getting his name in the newspaper. I think he even wrote a regular column in a Colorado Springs paper for a while. Conversations with Rufus always seemed to circle back to his poetry and books. I’m pretty sure that if you look up the term Self Promotion you’d find a reference to him along with P.T. Barnum. But by god he sold books. After he got too old to mine he eked out a fair living peddling his books.

Now, much as I hate it, I’m on the road to sell my books - even though much of the road is paved with bytes and not concrete. I’ll keep Rufus in mind. I’ll likely be wearing my Stetson instead of a hard hat and I’ll leave the pyrotechnic bra to Lady Gaga.

1 comment:

Jim Brownlee said...

I remember the poetry of Rufus Porter well. Another blast from the past. Unfortunately, I don't have any of it. Jim