Articles

Irby's very own North Atlantic turbine

Kenneth Irby, Robert Duncah, Anne Waldman, April 1972 (photo by Elsa Dorfman).

It would seem that Kenneth Irby and his work have forever been firmly located — not to say nailed down — in what Robert Duncan called “Irbyland,” i.e. the great American plains or grasslands with Fort Scott and/or Lawrence, Kansas, as bio-hub.

The walk to the Paradise Garden

Kenneth Irby, January 1985 (photo by David Levi Strauss).

One thing follows another, incessantly. This I would posit as the first principle of Kenneth Irby’s poetry, one of the qualities of attention he shares with Whitman. Accretion matters, but also — and this perhaps is a second principle — the line we cross to meet things matters. Or rather, gives to matter that hallucinatory quality dreams have when they surprise us by waking us up.

For Kenneth Irby / 'The Intent On' (January–May 2012)

Kenneth Irby and Robert Grenier, Berkeley, 1986.

Where to Begin ?  Start anywhere, and lines of ‘connection’ reach out toward other possible ‘brethren’/testimonies/‘betrayers of the truth’ guised in largely-invented-for-the-pleasure-of-the-tale/seeming-pure-relational-relation-of-event-type ‘stories of mine’ … about ‘Past Times’ I truly can’t remember (in very good detail), but will insist on

Kenneth Irby visits Carl O. Sauer and James C. Malin

Kenneth Irby (left) on the road.

Editorial note: The following pieces were originally published in Isthmus 2 (1973): 54–60, and are reprinted here — transcribed from their original typescripts — for the first time. Carl O. Sauer and James C. Malin are arguably the two most significant nonliterary influences on Irby’s writing, each of their names appearing eleven times in his The Intent On: Collected Poems, 1962–2006. To call them “nonliterary influences,” however, is misleading.

'yet another order / of the closeness we had found'

Kenneth Irby, January 1985 (photo by David Levi Strauss).

lobe of opalescent glass (417)

may be

a rapid shadow from a slope of grass[1]

- for