David Kirby

Thursday, March 24th at 7 pm: Reading and book signing in SDSU’s Love Library, Room 430
Friday, March 25th, Time/Location TBA: Workshop

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 The Temple Gate Called Beautiful, published in 2008 by Alice James Books. 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 Bernhrdt’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 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,[1] 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.


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