Featured Poet: David Kirby

BPR 48 | 2021

David Kirby seated on a park bench playing guitar, next to an unidentified woman. David Kirby’s collection The House on Boulevard St.: New and Selected Poems was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2007. Kirby is the author of thirty-four books on various topics, including Little Richard: The Birth of Rock ’n’ Roll, which the Times Literary Supplement of London called “a hymn of praise to the emancipatory power of nonsense” and which was named one of Booklist’s Top 10 Black History Non-Fiction Books of 2010. He teaches at Florida State University, where he has won five university teaching awards and is the Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of English. Kirby has won fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and recently the Florida Humanities Council presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in Writing. He is married to the poet and fiction writer Barbara Hamby, and his latest poetry collection is More Than This.

One thing few people know about David Kirby is that he is a crack shot. His farm-girl mom taught him how to shoot her single-shot .22 and paid him ten cents for every cottonmouth moccasin he knocked off, which otherwise would have menaced their sheep and horses. Kirby taught riflery as a camp counselor but has since given up weaponry for the pen, though he says that the lessons of sharpshooting apply to the writing of poems as well: preparation, patience, steadiness over time, making sure you hit your target.