Ken Irby

Kenneth Lee Irby (b.1936) was born in Bowie, Texas, and grew up in Fort Scott, Kansas. He holds degrees from the University of Kansas, Harvard University, and the University of California-Berkeley, and, since 1964, he has published over twenty books and pamphlets of poetry. As an undergraduate at the University of Kansas, Irby spent his summers in Mexico City, visiting his brother, James Irby, a lauded translator of Spanish and Portuguese literature and, subsequently, Emeritus Professor at Princeton University. From 1960–62, Irby served in the U.S. Army in New Mexico and on Johnston Island, and has since lived and worked in California, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Massachusetts, and New York. In 1974, Irby was awarded a Fulbright travel grant as a one-year visiting professor at the University of Copenhagen. Although he is often associated with the Black Mountain poets — with Robert Creeley, Edward Dorn, Robert Duncan, and Charles Olson, in particular — his exploratory, multiphasic writing sits at the intersection of a number of movements in late–20th century American avant-garde poetics. His books have been published by Black Sparrow, Tuumba, Tansy, and Station Hill, among many other presses, and in 2009 his collected poems, The Intent On: Collected Poems, 1962–2006, was published by North Atlantic Books. The following year he was awarded the Memorial Shelley Award (as a co-recipient, with Eileen Myles), from the Poetry Society of America. He is currently professor of literature at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas.