The House on Boulevard St.: New and Selected Poems

Finalist for the 2007 National Book Award and winner of the 2008 Florida Book Award and The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Award.

Booksellers Alliance Award for Poetry.

Reviewers have said this about The House on Boulevard St.: New and Selected Poems:

"Kirby has always been funny, but whereas his earlier poems (see I Think I Am Going to Call My Wife Paraguay, 2004) are in short, punchy lines appropriate to their wit, the later ones consist of relatively long-lined paragraphs. Kirby has made the latter distinctively his form by mastering the run-on sentence more completely than any other American poet. Sure, Beats such as Ginsberg and Snyder run on like crazy, but the principle of their verse is projection; the poet propels consciousness to ever further levels or degrees of reality, taking readers on a spiritual trip, and syntactic sense be damned. Kirby runs on considerably less cosmically, like a good raconteur (which he is), one whom you can't not listen to; his peers are prose writers--Mark Twain, James Joyce, Flann O'Brien, and Stephen King. Kirby's voice and matter (teaching, literature, traveling, rock 'n' roll, everyday bozohood) are utterly personal and, despite all the laughter, ultimately moving."
        -Ray Olson, Booklist, March 1, 2007.

"The cover of The House on Boulevard St. is a Roy Lichtenstein-style cartoon, a portrait of the poet David Kirby with a furrowed brow, above which floats a word balloon: 'Need a subtitle ... No, wait, I got it ... New and Selected Poems.'

"It's all very postmodern, the poet as Zelig, Photoshopping his way into art history. But there's a sense of rightfully shared turf here too. Just as Lichtenstein, Pollock and other artists kicked the gates open and invited popular culture into the realm of high art, so Kirby has tried to play host to a similar aesthetic open house in his poetry. ('So this is helpful, having Roy's example,' he murmurs in one poem.)

"Kirby believes in the seamlessness of 'high' and 'low' art; his poems are filled with references to everyone from Fats Domino and Garth Brooks to Keats and Sylvia Plath. Thus when Kirby was asked for a list of 10 essential poetry books, he included an unusual pick: 'I added 'The Essential Little Richard' because, as different as his branch of show business and my branch of show business are, I want my poems to move fast and I want people to like them. And you can't get all of that from Dante. . . ."

"Typically, 'New and Selected' poetry collections are organized chronologically, ending with the author's most recent work. As Kirby notes in his preface, he has instead arranged these poems so they explore 'periods of time' in his life. He's imposed a narrative on this work, one that tries to be cumulatively dramatic, albeit in a run-on, self-spinning fashion that resembles a Spalding Gray monologue. . . .

"So what is really going on in David Kirby's poems? What form there is (Kirby describes the poems, in his preface, as 'marked by fixed-length stanzas and a sawtooth margin' and a 'pendulum'-like tension) turns out to be wave-lengths of volubility, channeled toward vocal performance. Ezra Pound believed free verse embodied the rhythms of the thinking mind. Kirby's free verse narratives embody the rhythms of a mind striving to create the appearance of spontaneity. . . .

"Topographically, Kirby's poems look like landscapes for the voice. 'You leave the inkpots alone, and I won't start / splattering the canvases,' he pledges in a poem called 'Seventeen Ways From Tuesday.' (He's addressing Joan Mir.) Yet these poems have less to do with 'inkpots' or memory or innovation than they do with 'splattering the canvases.' Kirby stretches his backdrop, then 'paints' with breath-long brushstrokes. It seems right that he's been immortalized in a Lichtenstein-style cameo. Like the cover, these poems may be too cool for words.
        -Carol Muske-Dukes, The New York Times Book Review, April 29, 2007.

"Poet David Kirby Rocks the House In The House On Boulevard St.: New and Selected Poems.

"Kirby, who teaches at Florida State University, writes long poems with long linesinformal- but not (ugh) 'confessional'-about life in and out of academia, with an invaluable appreciation for popular culture because he knows that it is culture, our country's culture."
        -Ken Tucker in "5 Reasons To Live," Entertainment Weekly, July 2, 2007.

"Reviewing a David Kirby collection is a little like reviewing Bartlett's Famous Quotations. What can I pull out that hasn't already been plucked from somewhere else? The first poem alone, which has the borrowed title of 'Stairway to Heaven,' covers the thoughts and lives of the following people in just four pages: Emily Dickinson, Led Zepplin, Gomer Pyle, Dante Alighieri, Roy Lichtenstein, Marianne Moore, Lord Byron, Virginia Woolf, Donald Barthelme, Hayden Carruth, John Crowe Ransom, Jacques Derrida, Ted Solotaroff, Issac Newton, Wayne Newton, Kirby's own editor, and yes, even David Kirby himself, in the third person. . . .

"For Kirby, ideas are mostly about pleasure. Knowing things is a hobby no greater than knitting or philately, and beneath our brains, no matter how advanced, is a small, misguided animal with a looming expiration date. So why not drink wine, fall in love, and move to Italy?"
        -P. Scott Cunningham, Florida Book Review, 2007.

"David Kirby's wonderfully adventurous sentences, his supple, discipline rhythms, the casual accuracy of his versifying, and his astonishing gift for transmuting his memories into ours lead his readers through surprise after surprise to unexpected-yet inevitable-fulfillments and revelations. An American walker, his poems are a noble addition to the long, bipedaled excursive tradition inaugurated by his great exemplar, Dante. Digression and punctiliousness, directed movement and lollygagging, bemusement and piercing insight are among the many paradoxical dualities that energize and complicate the locomotion of his informed, capacious consciousness."
        -National Book Awards citation, 2007.

"David Kirby's new and selected poems are ... captivating and full of heart... Kirby is exuberant, irrepressible, maniacal and remarkably entertaining.

"Imagine a very funny, erudite and trustworthy friend who's had two glasses of wine too many expostulating on, say, an exhilarating Jerry Lee Lewis concert. Then, imagine a poem that also manages, like any freewheeling conversation, to veer off in a dozen unrelated directions that include scholarly asides about Shakespeare, the history of Sun Records and an e-mail correspondence with a newspaper editor who doesn't want an article about Jerry Lee Lewis...

"Kirby writes about ex-prizefighters and ex-girlfriends, about coming across the grave of a colleague, about the suicide of a friend, Roman Polanski's cookies, and about reading the want ads (while watching a Clint Eastwood movie) and imagining himself as a cake decorator. His rapturous ramblings turn into shapely, musical and artful poems, poems in a voice and style absolutely his own. The book's playful cover- it features a comic book portrait of the poet and a perfectly silly Kirbyish thought balloon-couldn't be more in character with these antic, charming and seemingly effortless poems. Okay, let me just say it: he is a wonderful poet. If you want to see how lively and personable American poetry can be, read The House on Boulevard St."
        -Steve Kowit, The San Diego Union-Tribune, March 23, 2008.

"Kirby's narrative poems are so amazing and thought-provoking, funny in places you would never expect, and wise and humble. Like the very best in poetry, they need to be read out loud. You have the feeling you have set out on a journey with a fascinating companion, lost track of the way, and when you are sure you are lost you suddenly find yourself, if not exactly where you intended to be, then in a new place even better than you expected to find."
        -Inkwood Books' nomination for the 2008 Southern Independent