The Columns

Editor of Shenandoah, R.T. Smith, Authors New Poetry Collection, Outlaw Style

— by on October 19th, 2007

R.T. Smith, editor of Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review, is the author of Outlaw Style, a newly released collection of narrative and lyric poems. Outlaw Style is Smith’s 23rd book of poetry and was published by the University of Arkansas Press.

The landscape and the culture of the American South are presented for the reader’s both interrogation and understanding in Outlaw Style. Organized into three sections, the collection takes us from the history of American racial intolerance, to a séance of voices of those involved with John Wilkes Boothe, to an exploration of the roots of traditional music.

Outlaw Style was selected by a panel of judges from a pool of over 600 submissions and is one of the four to receive this year’s University of Arkansas Prize in Poetry.

“I guess this collection is about the shadowy presences and outlaw characters who haunt the margins of American, particularly Southern, history. The central section explores the impact John Wilkes Booth had on the lives of those around him, and that alone gives it a dark, creepy feeling, but I hope the book’s overall symphony says that, as close as the monsters loom, we have no better option than to dance and sing.”

Smith’s collections of stories are Faith and Uke Rivers Delivers. His collections of poetry include The Cardinal Heart, Messenger, Trespasser, Split the Lark, The Hollow Log Lounge and Brightwood.

His fiction has appeared in reviews including The Pushcart Prize, Best American Short Stories and New Stories from the South; his poetry has appeared in The Pushcart Prize, Atlantic Monthly and Georgia Review, among others. He has received awards for his poetry from Ploughshares, Southern Humanities Review and Poetry Northwest. Messenger was named Poetry Book of the Year by the Library of Virginia.

Well-known poet and Pulitzer Prize winner Natasha Trethewey said about Outlaw Style, “An elegant music undergirds the poems in R.T. Smith’s new collection, as these poems seek and find the ‘blood harmony’ in the mongrel that is history. Outlaw Style is a brave and accomplished book.”