The Lords of Misrule, X. J. Kennedy's seventh volume of poetry, exhibits his characteristic blend of wit, intellectual curiosity, and formal mastery. The sixty poems collected here explore a wide range of subjects: a scathing curse on a sneak-thief, a wry ballad of Henry James and his not-quite lover Constance Fenimore Woolson, an elegy for Allen Ginsberg, incisive views of contemporary Egypt, a serio-comic meditation on the relic of St. Teresa of Avila which Spain's General Franco kept at his bedside, and a response to the events of September 11. Like the controlled frenzy of medieval Christmas festivities presided over by the appointed Lords of Misrule, Kennedy's poems possess a chaotic humor and frenetic energy held within tight metrical bounds. In his latest collection, Kennedy confirms his reputation as one of America's most accomplished and engaging poets.
X. J. Kennedy was born in Dover, New Jersey, in 1929. After teaching English at the University of Michigan, the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina (now UNC-Greensboro), and Tufts University, he became a full-time writer in 1978. He has published six other collections of poetry, including Nude Descending a Staircase, which won the 1961 Academy of American Poets Lamont Prize; Cross Ties, awarded the 1985 Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and Dark Horses, which was published by Johns Hopkins in 1992. He has also written eighteen children's books, including Exploding Gravy (2002), and has coauthored several textbooks, including An Introduction to Poetry with Dana Gioia, now in its tenth edition. His numerous honors include the Aiken Taylor Award for Lifetime Achievement in Modern American Poetry, Guggenheim and National Arts Council fellowships, the Shelley Memorial Award, the Golden Rose of the New England Poetry Club, the Michael Braude Award for Light Verse, and the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. He lives with his wife, Dorothy, in Lexington, Massachusetts.