X. J. Kennedy
- Category : Poet
- Type : MGP
- Profile : 4/6 - Opportunistic / Role Model
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Contagion 3
X. J. Kennedy (born 21 August 1929, Dover, New Jersey, USA as Joseph Charles Kennedy) is a poet, translator, anthologist, editor, and author of children's literature and textbooks on English literature and poetry. He was long known as Joe Kennedy; but, wishing to distinguish himself from Joseph P. Kennedy, he added an "X" as his first initial.
Early life and academic career
In his youth, under the name Joe Kennedy, he was an active member of science fiction fandom and published well-regarded fanzines, including Vampire (a quarterly, 1945–47) and the Vampire Annuals. He was a member of several amateur press associations, and co-founded the still-extant Spectator Amateur Press Association (SAPS). During this period he began writing science fiction for pulp magazines.
Kennedy attended Seton Hall (BSc, 1950) and Columbia University (MA, 1951). After serving for four years as an enlisted journalist with the U.S. Navy's Atlantic Fleet, he studied at the Sorbonne from 1955 to 56. Kennedy then spent the next six years pursuing a graduate degree in English at the University of Michigan but did not complete his Ph.D. There he met his future wife Dorothy Mintzlaff, who was a fellow graduate student.
Kennedy taught English at the University of Michigan, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Tufts University (1963–78), with visiting professorships at Wellesley, UC-Irvine, and Leeds.
In the early 1970s Kennedy and his wife Dorothy co-edited the influential journal, Counter/Measures, a precursor in the New Formalist movement to The Reaper and The Formalist. He also served as poetry editor of The Paris Review. Kennedy's poetry has been published in The New Yorker, Poetry, and The Hudson Review. He became a freelance writer in 1978.
Kennedy is most recognized for his light verse, and was the first recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Michael Braude Award for Light Verse. His first book, Nude Descending a Staircase, won the 1961 Lamont Poetry Prize of the Academy of American Poets, and his dozens of books have won awards including Guggenheim and National Arts Council fellowships, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry magazine, and a Los Angeles Times Book Award for poetry (in 1985 for Cross Ties: Selected Poems), the 1969/70 Shelley Memorial Award, the Golden Rose of the New England Poetry Club, honorary degrees from Lawrence and Adelphi Universities and Westfield State College. Kennedy received the National Council of Teachers of English Year 2000 Award for Excellence in Children's Poetry. He received the 2004 Poets' Prize for his work, The Lords of Misrule: Poems 1992-2002.
Kennedy also wrote a series of children's poetry books ("Brats"), translated Aristophanes' Lysistrata into English and edited the anthology Tygers of Wrath: Poems of Hate, Anger, and Invective (University of Georgia Press, 1981). Kennedy edited several editions of the textbook anthology Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. With his wife Dorothy and scholar Jane E. Aaron he is the editor of The Bedford Reader, a collegiate literature textbook also used for teaching to the AP English Language and Composition test.
Kennedy and his wife Dorothy have five children and six grandchildren, and reside in Lexington, Massachusetts.