In a Prominent Bar in Secaucus: New and Selected Poems, 1955-2007

Overview

For more than half a century, readers and listeners have taken special pleasure in the poetry of X. J. Kennedy. In a Prominent Bar in Secaucus is an ample gathering of his best work: memorable songs, startling lyrics, poems that tell poignant stories, character studies that vie with those of Edwin Arlington Robinson. A master of verbal music, Kennedy has long been praised for his wit and humor; as this collection reveals, many of his poems also reach surprising depths and heights. Donald Hall comments, "many of ...

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Overview

For more than half a century, readers and listeners have taken special pleasure in the poetry of X. J. Kennedy. In a Prominent Bar in Secaucus is an ample gathering of his best work: memorable songs, startling lyrics, poems that tell poignant stories, character studies that vie with those of Edwin Arlington Robinson. A master of verbal music, Kennedy has long been praised for his wit and humor; as this collection reveals, many of his poems also reach surprising depths and heights. Donald Hall comments, "many of Kennedy's poems are wit itself. His wit is his way of understanding. No one else writing is capable of the effects in which Kennedy specializes."

This book skims the cream from several slim volumes and six past collections including the prize-winning Nude Descending a Staircase, Cross Ties, and The Lords of Misrule. It restores to print over fifty poems unavailable for decades and adds more than two dozen new poems collected for the first time. Kennedy has long occupied a unique place in American poetry; In a Prominent Bar in Secaucus now offers the first comprehensive collection to span his entire career.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
A splendid volume... It is impossible not to think that his work will grow in estimation with each passing year.
North Dakota Quarterly
Kennedy is both a conceptualizer and a musician... the transformative element in Kennedy's creative process is the exactitude of his craft.

— Donald Junkins

Boston Globe
A worthy heir... to the indispensably impertinent likes of Catullus amd Dean Swift—cheerfully serving notice that there's still nothing like an artfully pithy piece of verse for making short work of killjoys.

— David Barber

Weekly Standard
X. J. Kennedy? He ought to be declared a national resource and excused from taxation.

— Wyatt Prunty

Chronicles
The high quality, abundance, and breadth of his writing—poetry, children's work, fiction, textbooks—and hislong presence on the literary scene make him one of the most important American poets today.

— Catherine Savage Brosman

North Dakota Quarterly - Donald Junkins
Kennedy is both a conceptualizer and a musician... the transformative element in Kennedy's creative process is the exactitude of his craft.
RALPH: Review of Arts
To us, Kennedy is the best of the best.
Boston Globe - David Barber
A worthy heir... to the indispensably impertinent likes of Catullus amd Dean Swift—cheerfully serving notice that there's still nothing like an artfully pithy piece of verse for making short work of killjoys.
Weekly Standard - Wyatt Prunty
X. J. Kennedy? He ought to be declared a national resource and excused from taxation.
Chronicles - Catherine Savage Brosman
The high quality, abundance, and breadth of his writing—poetry, children's work, fiction, textbooks—and hislong presence on the literary scene make him one of the most important American poets today.
Booklist

A splendid volume... It is impossible not to think that his work will grow in estimation with each passing year.

North Dakota Quarterly - Donald Junkins

Kennedy is both a conceptualizer and a musician... the transformative element in Kennedy's creative process is the exactitude of his craft.

Boston Globe - David Barber

A worthy heir... to the indispensably impertinent likes of Catullus amd Dean Swift—cheerfully serving notice that there's still nothing like an artfully pithy piece of verse for making short work of killjoys.

RALPH: Review of Arts

To us, Kennedy is the best of the best.

Weekly Standard - Wyatt Prunty

X. J. Kennedy? He ought to be declared a national resource and excused from taxation.

Chronicles - Catherine Savage Brosman

The high quality, abundance, and breadth of his writing—poetry, children's work, fiction, textbooks—and hislong presence on the literary scene make him one of the most important American poets today.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

Meet the Author

X. J. Kennedy has written poetry, children's verse, and fiction as well as textbooks on writing and literature. Before becoming a full-time writer, he taught at the University of Michigan, the University of North Carolina–Greensboro, Tufts University, Wellesley College, the University of California–Irvine, and Leeds University. He now lives in Lexington, Massachusetts, with his wife and sometime coauthor, Dorothy M. Kennedy.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents


Nude Descending a Staircase (1961)
First Confession     3
Solitary Confinement     4
On a Child Who Lived One Minute     5
Faces from a Bestiary     6
Nude Descending a Staircase     7
The Autumn in Norfolk Shipyard     8
Warning to Sculptors     9
Lewis Carroll     10
In a Prominent Bar in Secaucus One Day     11
Barking Dog Blues     13
Inscriptions after Fact     14
Lilith     14
The Sirens     14
Narcissus Suitor     15
Theater of Dionysus     16
At the Stoplight by the Paupers' Graves     19
Little Elegy     20
Ladies Looking for Lice     21
B Negative     22
At the Ghostwriter's Deathbed     25
Rondel     26
One A.M. with Voices     27
Growing into Love (1969)
Cross Ties     31
Poets     33
Nothing in Heaven Functions as It Ought     33
Creation Morning     34
Traveler's Warnings     35
Main Road West     35
Edgar's Story     35
National Shrine     36
Peace and Plenty     36
Driving Cross-country     37
Reading Trip     39
Requiem in Hoboken     43
For a Maiden Lady     44
Pottery Class     45
Absentminded Bartender     46
Loose Woman     47
Ant Trap     48
West Somerville, Mass.     50
Day Seven     50
The Ascent     50
Golgotha     52
Ode     55
Two Apparitions     56
Artificer     57
Daughter in the House     58
The Shorter View     59
Giving in to You     60
Slim Volumes
Breaking and Entering (1971)
Song: Great Chain of Being     63
Consumer's Report     65
The Atheist's Stigmata     66
In a Secret Field     67
Emily Dickinson in Southern California (1973)
Mining Town     68
Schizophrenic Girl     69
Evening Tide     70
A Little Night Music     71
Celebrations After the Death of John Brennan (1974)     72
Three Tenors, One Vehicle (1975)
Talking Dust Bowl Blues     76
Song to the Tune of "Somebody Stole My Gal"      77
Cross Ties: Selected Poems (1985)
In a Dry Season     81
A Footpath Near Gethsemane     82
Dirty English Potatoes     83
Goblet     84
Aunt Rectita's Good Friday     85
Hangover Mass     86
One-night Homecoming     87
October     88
Joshua     89
Old Men Pitching Horseshoes     90
To Dorothy on Her Exclusion from The Guinness Book of World Records     91
At the Last Rites for Two Hotrodders     92
Flitting Flies     93
The Death of Professor Backwards     95
At Brown Crane Pavilion     96
On the Proposed Seizure of Twelve Graves in a Colonial Cemetery     97
A Beardsley Moment     99
Dark Horses (1992)
The Arm     103
Twelve Dead, Hundreds Homeless     104
The Waterbury Cross     105
Veterinarian     106
The Animals You Eat     107
Snug     108
Overnight Pass     109
Two from Guillaume Apollinaire     110
Pont Mirabeau     110
Churchbells     111
To the Writers Forbidden to Write     112
Terse Elegy for J. V. Cunningham     113
On Being Accused of Wit     114
Emily Dickinson Leaves a Message to the World Now that Her Homestead in Amherst Has an Answering Machine     115
The Withdrawn Gift     116
On the Square     117
Dump     119
Summer Children     121
Tableau Intime     122
Finis     123
Black Velvet Art     124
The Lords of Misrule (2002)
"The Purpose of Time Is to Prevent Everything from Happening at Once"     127
Jimmy Harlow     128
Naomi Trimmer     129
Five-and-Dime, Late Thirties     131
Sailors with the Clap     133
For Allen Ginsberg     134
Thebes: In the Robber Village     135
Close Call     136
Street Moths     137
Decor     138
The Ballad of Fenimore Woolson and Henry James     139
A Scandal in the Suburbs     145
To His Lover, That She Be Not Overdressed     146
The Blessing of the Bikes     147
Sharing the Score     149
A Curse on a Thief     150
Pie     151
Shriveled Meditation     152
Meditation in the Bedroom of General Francisco Franco     153
Maples in January     154
September Twelfth, 2001     155
New Poems
Panic in the Carwash     159
At Paestum     160
Rites     161
Small House Torn Down To Build a Larger     162
Uncertain Burial     163
Innocent Times     164
Epiphany     165
Furnished Rental     166
Brotherhood     167
Death of a Window Washer     168
Pacifier     169
Geometry     170
Silent Cell phones     171
Fireflies     172
Mrs. Filbert's Golden Quarters     173
Jerry Christmas     174
Poor People in Church     176
Sonnet Beginning with a Line and a Half Abandoned by Dante Gabriel Rossetti     178
God's Obsequies     179
Storehouse     181
At the Antiques Fair     182
Secret River     183
Command Decision     184
Bald Eagle     185
Meeting a Friend Again After Thirty Years     187
Finding a Tintype     188
Out of Tune with the Stars     189
Envoi      191
Notes     193
Index of Titles and First Lines     197
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