Cowboy & Western Poets
Robert Pinsky & Natasha Trethewey
Releasing December 2008, issue #30 celebrates the poetry of the western range with work by 24 cowboy & western poets. Developing primarily as an oral tradition, the genre is often thought of as a hybrid between story and song–a collection of tall tales and folk ballads that sit well around the campfire. But the image of the cowboy has been mythologized by Hollywood, and the image of the cowboy poem has been oversimplified, as well.
Modern cowboy & western poetry is as complicated and eclectic as the modern cowboy–there are plenty of appearances by cattle and corrals and ranchers breaking horses, but the topics range from love and politics to ecology and philosophy. And while many of the poems speak in meter and rhyme, plenty of others roam wild and free. The tribute section even includes the longest poem we’ve ever published, a 20-page western retelling of Beowulf by Donald Mace Williams.
Also in the issue, Alan Fox interviews three-term Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky and Pulitzer Prize winner Natasha Trethewey. Along with 60 pages of open poetry, we share the 11 winning poems from the 2008 Rattle Poetry Prize.