The Collected Works of Billy the Kid: Left-Handed Poems – Michael Ondaatje (1970)

1960s: Days of Rage


The Collected Works of Billy the Kid: Left-Handed Poems is a verse novel by Michael Ondaatje, published in 1970. It chronicles and interprets important events in the life of William Bonney, aka Billy the Kid, and his conflict with Sheriff Pat Garrett. The book presents a series of poems not necessarily in chronological order which fictionalize and relate Bonney’s more famous exploits, after the end of the Lincoln County War. The narrative includes his relationship with John and Sallie Chisum, his formation of a gang with Tom O’Folliard and Charlie Bowdre, his standoff with Garrett in Stinking Springs, his arrest and escape from Lincoln, New Mexico, his escape and the ensuing murder of James Bell and Robert Olinger, and finally his death at the hands of Garrett. Technical and stylistic elements:Makes use of free verse vignettes, mostly from Bonney’s perspective…

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