David Kirby (poet)
David Kirby (born 1944) is an American poet and the Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of English at Florida State University (FSU). His most recent book is Talking about Movies with Jesus, published in 2011 by LSU Press. His new and selected poetry collection, The House on Boulevard St. (Louisiana State University Press), was nominated for the 2007 National Book Award in poetry.
Kirby has published over 20 books, including collections of poetry, and literary criticism, and his poems frequently appear in The Southern Review. His collected earlier poems, up to the transitional Big-Leg Music, have been published as I Think I Am Going to Call My Wife Paraguay. His earliest books of verse, Sarah Bernhardt's Leg (1983) and Saving the Young Men of Vienna (1987, winner of the Brittingham Prize), showed the distinctive mixture of lyricism and wit that can be found in his later work, which began in Big-Leg Music (1995). In that collection, Kirby began presenting what he termed "memory poems," freewheeling, associative verse with long lines in shaped stanzas that give play to his interests in high and popular culture, are informed by personal and cultural experiences in the author's life, and present, under the guise of apparent ingenuousness, an array of literary and cultural theories wittily and succinctly stated—all making what the poet and critic Peter Klappert has termed "the Kirby poem." Kirby's later titles in this vein include My Twentieth Century, The House of Blue Light, and The Travelling Library. His volume, The Ha-Ha was chosen one of ten "Best Books of 2003" by Boston Globe critic Clea Simon, and was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize. His work has won numerous awards, including four Pushcart Prizes, the James Dickey Prize, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation.
Kirby obtained his Ph.D. in 1969 from Johns Hopkins University. He lives with his wife and fellow poet Barbara Hamby in Tallahassee, Florida. Kirby has taught at FSU's international campuses in Florence, Paris, Valencia, and elsewhere.
Honors and awards
- Grants from Florida Arts Council - 1983, 1989,1996, 2002
- Grant from The National Endowment for the Arts - 1985
- Brittingham Prize in Poetry - 1987
- University Teaching Awards - 1992, 1997
- The Best American Poetry 2000
- The Best American Poetry 2001
- Pushcart Prize XXV - 2001
- Guggenheim Fellowship - 2003
- Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professorship - 2003
- Finalist, Griffin Poetry Prize (International), 2004
- The Best American Poetry 2006
- The Best American Poetry 2007
- National Book Award Nominee 2007
- Saving the Young Men of Vienna (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987)
- Writing Poetry: Where Poems Come from and How to Write Them (Boston: The Writer, Inc., 1989)
- Mark Strand and the Poet's Place in Contemporary Culture (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1990)
- Herman Melville (New York: Crossroad/Continuum, 1993)
- Big Leg Music (Alexandria, Virginia: Orchises Press, 1995)
- My Twentieth Century (Alexandria, Virginia: Orchises Press, 1999)
- The House of Blue Light (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2000)
- The Travelling Library (Alexandria, Virginia: Orchises Press, 2001)
- What is a Book? (Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 2002)
- The Ha-Ha (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2003)
- I Think I Am Going to Call My Wife Paraguay (Alexandria, Virginia: Orchises Press, 2004)
- The House on Boulevard St.: New and Selected Poems by David Kirby (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2007)
- Ultra-Talk: Johnny Cash, The Mafia, Shakespeare, Drum Music, St. Teresa of Avila, and 17 Other Colossal Topics of Conversation (University of Georgia Press, 2007)
- The Temple Gate Called Beautiful (Alice James Books, 2008)
- Little Richard: The Birth of Rock 'n' Roll (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2009)
- Talking about Movies with Jesus (LSU Press, 2011)
Essays and Interviews
- "David Kirby: Words, Wisdom, Women, Whitman, Willie Mays and the White House, and 17 other questions David Kirby doesn't answer." Slurve Magazine: The First Pitch (Spring 2007) www.slurvemag.com.
- Halliday, Mark. "Gabfest." Parnassus: Poetry in Review. 26 (2002), 203–215.
- Reichert, Stephen. "An Interview with David Kirby." Arkansas Review, 32 (December 2001), 184–189.
- Klappert, Peter. "The Invention of the Kirby Poem." The Southern Review, 36 (Winter 2000), 196ff.
- Kent, Valerie. "A Conversation with David Kirby." The Chattahoochee Review, 9 (Spring 1989), 1–13.
- Mike Arnold, New Hampshire Public Radio, 17 December 2003
- MacQueen, Steve. "Sho' Like to Ball: David Kirby Hits 'Em High and Low In a Galloping Career Through the Quirky World of Free Verse." Research in Review, 14 (Winter 2004) (Retrieved September 6, 2006)
- page at Florida State University profile
- David Kirby's personal web site
- Florida State University, Department of English website
- Griffin Poetry Prize biography
- Griffin Poetry Prize reading, including video clip