The Runaway Story of Belle Starr
Margot Douaihy with illustrations by Bri Hermanson
Bandit/Queen: The Runaway Story of Belle Starr is a polyphonic, docupoetic project exploring Belle Starr, a notorious Wild West outlaw, and her unsolved murder in 1889. Belle Starr traded a privileged upbringing for a life on the lam—marrying outlaws, thieving, and providing shelter for criminal gangs, all with her signature brocade and purple hats. After the media locked into her story, Belle Starr rocketed to fame. She “became” a compelling anti-hero, icon, and criminal mastermind—The Female Jesse James. Newspapers and books fabricated details about Belle, and a mass delusion seemingly took hold. But who was Belle Starr? Where do fiction and fact overlap? Today’s evolving media ecosystem—fake news, deep fakes, carefully controlled social media profiles—underscore the enduring appeal of the person vs persona tension. A feminist analog to Michael Ondaatje’s Collected Works of Billy the Kid, this archive-driven book merges documentary poetry by Margot Douaihy with scratchboard illustrations by Bri Hermanson to examine identity, desire, rule breaking, and (in)authenticity.
About the Authors
Margot Douaihy earned a BA in Writing from the University of Pittsburgh Writing Program, an MA in Creative & Life Writing from Goldsmiths, University of London, and a PhD in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Bri Hermanson is a scratchboard illustrator. Her work has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, Creative Quarterly, Luerzer's Archive, Applied Arts, the Altpick Awards, the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles, and the 3x3 Directory.