The Ha-Ha: Poems

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Overview

A feature of English landscape architecture, a ha-ha is a wall at the bottom of a ditch; its purpose is to allow the presence of cows and sheep on one's lawn, but at an agreeable distance and with none of the malodorous unsightliness that proximity would bring. Similarly, The Ha-Ha, the latest offering from poet David Kirby, is both an exploration of the ways in which the mind invites chaos yet keeps it at a distance and an apologia for humor, reflecting Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh's observation that tragedy is ...

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The Ha-ha: Poems

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Overview

A feature of English landscape architecture, a ha-ha is a wall at the bottom of a ditch; its purpose is to allow the presence of cows and sheep on one's lawn, but at an agreeable distance and with none of the malodorous unsightliness that proximity would bring. Similarly, The Ha-Ha, the latest offering from poet David Kirby, is both an exploration of the ways in which the mind invites chaos yet keeps it at a distance and an apologia for humor, reflecting Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh's observation that tragedy is merely underdeveloped comedy. Embracing wit, wide-ranging scholarship, and an equal love of travel as well as the pleasures of home, The Ha-Ha depicts comedy as a radical form of intelligence, a way of thinking that just happens to be noisy and rumbustious.

We are staying with Barbara's parents on Oahu, and the first night we're there, I notice an angry-looking man is staring at me

out of the neighbor's upstairs window and mumbling something, but the second night I realize that it's that poster of Bo Diddley

from the famous Port Arthur concert, and there's a phone wirein front of his face that bobs up and down when the trade winds blow,

which they do constantly, making it seem as though Mr. Diddley is saying something to me.

From "The Ha-Ha, Part I: The Tao of Bo Diddley" published in The Ha-Ha: Poems by David Kirby. Copyright © 2003 by David Kirby. All rights reserved.

- See more at: http://lsupress.org/books/detail/the-ha-ha/#sthash.g8vUSeuN.dpuf

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
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 a la Robert Lowell. — Andy Brumer
Library Journal
Fueled by Kirby's (English, Florida State Univ.) use of lengthy lines, his preference for enjambment, and his tendency toward free association, these high-energy poems leave one breathless. Long sentences, including some that run for 24 lines, and the brisk conversational tone hasten the reader along. A combination of anecdotes, repartee, and verbal wit, the best poems come together in an absurd yet logical conclusion, as in "A Man Like You but Older," in which the poet spies on his younger self, ultimately wishing he could have known then what he knows now. Verbal misunderstandings, like those in "France/Francine's Begonias," and puns abound. For instance, the title indicates a fence to keep livestock at a distance from the house just as it indicates laughter, with Kirby adding his own spin that the ha-ha is a structure against chaos as is perhaps poetry. Resembling both a Jay Leno monolog and Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, the poems in Kirby's 21st book are highly recommended for all libraries. [Kirby is a longtime LJ reviewer.-Ed.]-Diane Scharper, Towson Univ., MD Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807128947
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2003
  • Series: Southern Messenger Poetry Ser.
  • Pages: 55
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

David Kirby

The Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of English at Florida State University, David Kirby is the author of twenty previous books, including the poetry collection The House of Blue Light. His poems have been published in Best American Poetry 2000 and 2001 and in Pushcart Prize XXV. He is a recipient of the Brittingham Prize in Poetry and a Guggenheim fellowship among other honors. He and his wife, poet Barbara Hamby, live in Tallahassee. For more information visit www.davidkirby.com.

The Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of English at Florida State University, David Kirby is the author of twenty previous books, including the poetry collection The House of Blue Light. His poems have been published in Best American Poetry 2000 and 2001 and in Pushcart Prize XXV. He is a recipient of the Brittingham Prize in Poetry and a Guggenheim fellowship among other honors. He and his wife, poet Barbara Hamby, live in Tallahassee. For more information visit www.davidkirby.com.

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Table of Contents

The Ha-Ha, Part I: The Tao of Bo Diddley 1
The Fugawi 7
The Werewolf 10
Someone Naked and Adorable 13
Americans in Italy 15
Lame as a Robin 18
Letters to Juliet 20
A Man Like You but Older 22
The Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart 24
Looking for Percy Sledge 27
Public Idiot 29
Calling Robert Bly 32
On My Mother's Blindness 35
France/Francine's Begonias 37
The Search for Baby Combover 41
The Elephant of the Sea 46
Borges at the Northside Rotary 48
The Ha-Ha, Part II: I Cry My Heart, Antonio 53
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2013

    Nightstar to human

    You will pay for this she hisses at it.

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    Posted December 18, 2013

    Fiddlepaw

    Thank you nightstar.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2013

    A HUMAN

    Shoved the cat in a cage and locked it

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2013

    Brierlight

    ...

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