Cover design by Janice Olson

  Blue Cowboy

by Jonathan Vaile
PO Box 42164
Washington, DC 20015

© 2005 Jonathan Vaile
80 pages

0-915380-59-5 (paperback)

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Blurbs and Reviews --

John Berryman, Mark Rothko, Edgar Allan Poe and, above all, Walter Benjamin are presiding spirits of Blue Cowboy, which is by turns sardonic, perspicacious, poignant, erudite, night-fallen and desperately funny. Jonathan Vaile’s pyrotechnics sometimes careen dangerously close to desolation, but then they lift, spire up and illuminate the darkness.
Peter Klappert, author of Chokecherries: New and Selected Poems, 1966-1999

Jonathan Vaile’s darkly humorous poems are energetic and inventive. They explore “the corners of everything,” his domain the shadowy ends of alleys, bars and corner markets where he finds his subjects—counterboys and assistant pastors, mumbling madmen and ladies in housecoats walking their cats—the abject and forlorn, the dispossessed. He lifts their stories from silence. The empathetic voice of Blue Cowboy is distinctly his own, part cowboy, part blues
singer, part philosopher.
Geraldine Connolly, author of Province of Fire

Jonathan Vaile finds his muse in corners. But all she offers is a peek at the one true lie. Alternately frustrated and indifferent, Vaile spars with her in syncopated rhythms and linguistic riffs: “For tonite Sweet/ Poquita we’ll live/ without limits cruise to/ the drive-through for crackers/ at Jacks...” His is the plight of the postmodern man, adrift in menace, estranged from the authentic self. “Oh sweet Lord, if only I could fix/on something fresh just for once,/ if only I could feel, really feel/ something heavy.” No easy escape routes here. Despite Vaile’s attempts to find solace in the great ones—Pessoa, Rothko, Berryman, Walter Benjamin—clarity remains elusive. This is an unsettling book, a madcap trip past the lip of some precipice. Best to hold your breath and hang on for dear life—suspended in the moment just before freefall.
Barbara Goldberg, author of Marvelous Pursuits


About the Author --

Jonathan Vaile has read and performed his poetry in New York, Chicago, New England, and extensively in the Washington, D.C. area. His work has appeared in Poet Lore, Gargoyle, Minimus, Exquisite Corpse, Phoebe, WordWrights! and Winners: A Retrospective of the Washington Prize, among other magazines and anthologies.

He is a three-time Literature Panelist for the Washington, D.C. Commission for the Arts and Humanities, and he received Literature Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1994 and 1997. In 1999, he was a member of The District of Columbia’s Poetry Slam Team, which participated in the National Poetry Slam in Chicago. He teaches English at a private school in Washington, D.C. and lives in Alexandria, Virginia with his wife, Beverley; his son, Johnny; and their terrier, Raccoon. Blue Cowboy is Jonathan Vaile’s first full-length book of poetry.

Jonathan Vaile


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