Looking forward to the cowboy’s play on words

By Lynn Moncus

Many of us who read the Quay County Sun look forward to seeing what Baxter Black has to say each week, not only because we speak the same language but because we know him. He has caused many smiles through the years and just keeps writing.

When I was teaching “Cowboy Lit” at NMSU, he would drop by to entertain the class and to thank the university for doing so much for him and his family. Of course, he evoked much laughter during class and would be in no hurry to leave the building. Often he would return to the office and continue visiting. In seconds the office would be filled with students and faculty so all of us could enjoy what he had to say.

When Baxter agreed to come here for the Chamber Banquet, he gave a lot of us pause because he was charging more than we could begin to afford. All he said was that if he agreed to come, the money would show up. Well, he was correct and we had a very large crowd. He also wanted to appear here because he had several close friends with whom he could visit. He surely didn’t let his claim to fame get in the way of being a real person and remained the zany dude we had known in his youth.

While teaching on campus, I was privileged to meet a number of writers and to work with quite a few of them as they tried to avoid perishing. We would have special events and invite well known writers, but we really enjoyed being around the local ones who made life exciting as they published their work. Whether we were blearing at a scientific document or looking at the latest poem, we had fun because we knew those writers and admired their work. Being able to hear the writer’s voice added much to the enjoyment of their writing and enhanced our understanding of it.

Fortunately, some of my former students still send me their latest work and give me the opportunity to appreciate what they are doing. Those of us who have spent much of our lives playing with words just naturally enjoy seeing how others express their ideas and how they improve as they continue to write. The beginners’ efforts soon turn into very polished work and show us how they have learned to hone their vocabulary in order to let it say just what they want it to say. By reading each other’s work, we learn to improve our own and hope to show a few changes along the way.

Whereas, Baxter Black works hard to prove that his writing is anything but polished, he shows in every column just how much polish he has to use in order to speak the language of the country people. Such writing causes more work than does the straight writing that most of us tend to do. We have to do much more thinking if we want to appeal to a particular group than if we just want to write a few words in general. Let’s just keep enjoying his column and hope he won’t run out of words any time soon.