Walt McDonald Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Walt McDonald’s short stories have appeared widely in literary magazines, anthologies, and in the collection A Band of Brothers: Stories from Vietnam (1989). As a scholar and critic, he has published essays in many journals and reference works, and he coedited A“Catch-22” Casebook (1973) with Frederick Kiley and Texas Stories and Poems (1978) with James P. White.

With archivist Janet M. Neugebauer, McDonald has also published art books, including All That Matters: The Texas Plains in Photographs and Poems (1992) and Whatever the Wind Delivers: Celebrating West Texas and the Near Southwest (1999). These volumes present McDonald’s poetry alongside historic photographs from the Southwest Collection, creating a strong aesthetic effect and an engaging interpretive social history.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

In addition to his poetry collections, Walt McDonald has published more than nineteen hundred poems in periodicals, and his works have appeared in more than sixty anthologies and textbooks. The Flying Dutchman won the Elliston Poetry Prize, After the Noise of Saigon won the Juniper Prize, and Blessings the Body Gave won the Ohio State University Press/The Journal Award in Poetry. In 1999, McDonald was named poet laureate of Lubbock, Texas (a lifetime honor), and he served as poet laureate of Texas in 2001. He has received two creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and six awards from the Texas Institute of Letters, including the Lon Tinkle Memorial Award for excellence sustained throughout a career. He won the A. C. Greene Literary Award in 2002, the Texas Book Festival Bookend Award in 2004, and the Western Writers of America’s Spur Award in 2005. Four of his books—Whatever the Wind Delivers, All That Matters, The Digs in Escondido Canyon, and Rafting the Brazos—have won the Western Heritage Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Beidler, Philip D. “Poets After Our War.” In Rewriting America: Vietnam Authors and Their Generation. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1991. Emphasizes the increasingly subtle and contextualized—but nevertheless important—role that Vietnam plays in McDonald’s work.

Christianity and Literature 49, no. 2 (Winter, 2000). Edited by Darryl Tippens. This special issue focuses on McDonald’s work. Includes an interview by Tippens, four articles on McDonald’s poetry, and a selected bibliography.

Gotera, Vicente F. “Walter McDonald: After the (Machine) Noise of Saigon.” In Radical Vision: Poetry by Vietnam Veterans. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1994. Examines Vietnam poetry in relation to traditional American interpretive myths. Particularly insightful on the thematic place of technology in McDonald’s work.

Hobbs, Michael. “Walter McDonald.” In Updating the Literary West, edited by Thomas J. Lyon et al. Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1997. Useful article that introduces the concept of “hardscrabble sublime.” Claims Witching on Hardscrabble is McDonald’s best volume.

Hudgins, Andrew, and Janice Whittington, eds. The Waltz He Was Born For: An Introduction to the Writing of Walt McDonald. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2002. Contains sixteen essays on McDonald’s religious themes, artistic techniques, regional topics, war themes, and general discussions. Also includes an interview with the poet.