Poetry from David Kirby | Xpress Reviews

Week ending May 23, 2014

starred review starKirby, David. A Wilderness of Monkeys. Hanging Loose. 2014. 89p. ISBN 9781934909430. pap. $18. POETRY
wildernessmonkeys052314“that thing you’ve been searching for” opens this latest collection (after The Biscuit Joint) by prize-winning poet Kirby (“the Kirb”) and is followed by his familiar rapid-fire speech and matched pacing that might strike the reader initially as frenetic and borderline compulsive. Then just as quickly as they began, the words settle into a rhythm, airing a sense of calm that seems to be a mix of contentedness and resignation with the world, its ideas, conventions, schemes, and ongoing complexities. As one poem after another reveals the poet’s layered voice—one that is wholly found by both related and unrelated encounters, circumstances, conversations, and influences—readers forget that it’s poetry they’re so caught up in, there’s so much movement! Yet these narrative pieces show a skilled craftsman at work. As in “Infinite Cornucopia,” which begins by describing a friend’s confrontation with two preschoolers, then reminds Kirby “there’s so much I don’t know. Take death,” and after a series of leaping thoughts, he ends with a line we remember: “but I know that I love you… What a wonderful world this could be.”
Verdict Kirby’s place among an attentive poetry audience is permanent; his work is also highly recommended for even the most restless of readers, who will find these poems provide a grounded and meaningful space to visit and stay for a while.—Annalisa Pesek, Library Journal