Townes Van Zandt edited collection

deadline for submissions: 
August 31, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Ann Norton Holbrook/Saint Anselm College
contact email: 

Chapter proposals are invited for a volume of essays about songwriter Townes Van Zandt. The editors welcome proposals from scholars in any field: music, music history, English, communications, American studies, sociology, politics, philosophy, religion, marketing, etc. Edited chapters should be 20-25 pages in length (5000-7500 words). Submit typed, double-spaced papers using 12-point Times New Roman font and adhere to the latest updates according to MLA style conventions.


Since his death in 1997 at age 52, it has become a cliché to call Texas native Townes Van Zandt a “songwriter’s songwriter,” a “poet” whose lyrics put him on a par with more widely-known contemporaries like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, John Prine, and Joni Mitchell, and to lament his relative obscurity. Few singer-songwriters get this much attention from peers, reviewers, and music lovers, yet few with so much critical stature have so little cultural recognition. Van Zandt had and has a passionate cult following that includes the musicians who have recorded his songs and brought them to the world’s attention as Van Zandt’s own albums never did. A 2009 album dedicated to covers of Van Zandt’s songs is called, simply, Poet, and boasts a lineup of elite alt-country and Americana musicians like Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Robert Earl Keen, and Billy Joe Shaver; and this collection is only one among many such musical tributes. In “‘I’ll Be Here in the Morning’: The Songwriting Legacy of Townes Van Zandt, forty songwriters from two generations discuss Van Zandt’s influence and literary prowess, equating him to, among others, Whitman, Blake, Shelley, and Hemingway. Two full-length biographies and a documentary chronicle Van Zandt’s rambling, unstable musician’s life, his alcoholism and addictions, his lovers and wives, his bipolar disorder and psychiatric history, his musical structures, singing, and guitar prowess, and his place in country or folk music history. And recently, academia has begun to take notice As Peter Falconer and James Zborowski declare, “Townes Van Zandt is in no danger of being forgotten . . . he is a figure whom students and scholars of literature may consider worth their while to remember” (142). Michael B. MacDonald calls him “a towering figure in late twentieth-century American culture,” “profoundly important” both “as a poet and chronicler of American life . . .” (159).

By June 30, 2018, interested authors should submit the following to

  • A 300-word abstract
  • A 200-word biography
  • A two-page version of their CV (graduate program, employment, relevant recent
  • A sample of no more than five pages of a previously published chapter or