Reviewers have said this about The Ha-Ha:
David Kirby has been writing very original and moving poems for at least
twenty years, but this new book is his most daring and successful. The
world that Kirby takes into his imagination and the one that arises from
it merge to become a creation like no other, something like the world we
inhabit but funnier and more full of wonder and terror. He has evolved a
poetic vision that seems able to include anything, and when he lets it
sweep him across the face of Europe and America, the results are astonishing.
-Philip Levine, Ploughshares, Fall 2004
"David Kirby's The Ha-Ha [is] a hugely entertaining volume of comic and tragicomic narrative poems built out of long lines, loping stanzas and a loopy, appealing sensibility. . . . This mix of erudition and sensibility, of high and low, is now a Kirby staple. He is a brilliant narrative poet who gives enormous and, in the end, deeply serious pleasure: his poems deliver surprise, thoughtfulness, and delight. . . . A virtuoso of the apparently offhand, the anecdotal and the everyday, Kirby is a Whitmanian raconteur, self-debunker and neighborly philosopher given to melancholy, and he unapologetically albeit artfully presents himself as he apparently is. . . . These poems are tender, funny, talky, full of bad jokes brilliantly told; they are at times unabashedly sentimental yet somehow earn their sentiments. . . . There is nothing, it seems, these poems can't contain."
-Maureen N. McLane, The Chicago Tribune, January 4, 2004.
"Fueled by Kirby's use of lengthy lines, his preference for enjambment, and his tendency toward free association, these high-energy poems leave one breathless. . . . A combination of anecdotes, repartee, and verbal wit, the best poems come together in an absurd yet logical conclusion. . . . Resembling both a Jay Leno monolg and Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, the poems in Kirby's 21st book are highly recommended for all libraries."
-Diane Scharper, Library Journal, October 1, 2003.
"Many of the fast-paced narrative poems here are set in Italy, and this only heightens their distinctly American sound. The stream-of-consciousness and jazz-based rhythms of Kerouac and Ginsberg meet the surreal, philosophical musings of Wallace Stevens, with an occasional dose of cathartic confessionalism B la Robert Lowell."
-Andy Brumer, The New York Times Book Review, December 14, 2003.
"I haven't enjoyed a book of poetry so much in a long time. Kirby takes his clarity, mounts it, and rides it fearlessly into even the foggiest territory."
-Richard Collins, Xavier Review, Spring 2004.
The Ha-Ha was chosen one of ten "Best Books of 2003" by Boston Globe critic Clea Simon.
- Mike Arnold, New Hampshire Public Radio, December 17, 2003
"David Kirby's new book of poems is funny, but it's also more than funny. . . . Verb tenses, time frames, language, and story lines shift ceaselessly, like consciousness itself, like the poet's mind as one memory intrudes on another. . . . Kirby will get, say, three story lines going, three groups of images, three metaphors, juggle them deftly, and bring them together in a finale that's as surprising, as open-ended, as it is inevitable and right. . . . Kirby's poetry is a comic slaughterhouse where nothing goes to waste."
-Jon Garelick, The Boston Phoenix, October 3, 2003.