It’s about time poet David Kirby receives the attention he’s due. The professor teaches at Florida State University, with specialties in poetry and 19th century U.S. literature. We were delighted to see his inclusion as a finalist in poetry for the 2007 National Book Awards for 'The House on Boulevard St.'
Months ago, I was link hopping poetry sites on the Web, and I came across the Florida page at the Academy of American Poets. Kirby happens to be one of my favorites. When I saw his name wasn’t listed, I emailed to ask how the poets are selected. I received an unmemorable response. I suppose it’s a system of shared aesthetics, maybe? And politics, maybe? Poetry is rife with that. To prove my point, on that same Florida page, no mention is made of FSU’s Creative Writing Program, viewed by any number of poets and writers as one of the best in the nation. Then again, AAP isn’t the end-all for American poetry; it’s one of many organizations dedicated to the genre. Since the awards announcement, it is my sincere hope the AAP page will receive a quick enlightened edit. Kirby is included in other pages at the organization site, just not on the Florida page where you’d think he’d be up front and center.
I’ve pitched a Kirby article to some of my freelance clients, and I still have hopes I’ll get to write about him. Maybe now I will.
So we’re sending this fellow, whom we’ve never met personally but did view personally at a poetry do in Tallahassee and whose poetry we have often enjoyed, our sincere congratulations. He deserves to win the award, but there again, this is poetry and the genre has never and will never be a meritocracy. I’d say American poetry at the moment comes closest to being an oligarchy.
Read one of Kirby's poems, "Ode to Myself as a Rough Draft" at the Southeast Review, an FSU publication.