The Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading presents more than 50 authors, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 12 at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. David Kirby will speak at 10 a.m. Saturday in FPRW 118. Find more information here.
David Kirby's collection The House on Boulevard St.: New and Selected Poems was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2007. His other books include the exuberant Little Richard: The Birth of Rock 'n' Roll. Kirby teaches at Florida State University, where he is the Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of English. His honors include fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation; in 2016, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Florida Humanities Council. Here is a poem from his latest poetry collection, Get Up, Please.
Taking It Home to Jerome
In Baton Rouge, there was a DJ on the soul station who was
always urging his listeners to "take it on home to Jerome."
No one knew who Jerome was. And nobody cared. So it
didn't matter. I was, what, ten, twelve? I didn't have anything
to take home to anyone. Parents and teachers told us that all
we needed to do in this world were three things: be happy,
do good, and find work that fulfills you. But I also wanted
to learn that trick where you grab your left ankle in your
right hand and then jump through with your other leg.
Everything else was to come, everything about love:
the sadness of it, knowing it can't last, that all lives must end,
all hearts are broken. Sometimes when I'm writing a poem,
I feel as though I'm operating that crusher that turns
a full-size car into a metal cube the size of a suitcase.
At other times, I'm just a secretary: the world has so much
to say, and I'm writing it down. This great tenderness.