X. J. (Joseph Charles) Kennedy was an American poet . He was born in Dover, New Jersey on August 21, 1929. After studying at Seton Hall, Columbia University, and the University of Michigan, Kennedy served four years in the U.S. Navy’s Atlantic Fleet as a journalist, and then attended the Sorbonne in Paris for one year in 1955. In the early 1970s, Kennedy published Counter/Measures; a magazine devoted to the use of traditional form in poetry.
Kennedy’s first collection of poetry, Nude Descending a Staircase (Doubleday, 1961), won the Lamont Poetry Selection. His awards include a Guggenheim fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, the Bess Hokin Prize for Poetry magazine, and a Los Angeles Times Book prize. Kennedy has taught at the Universities of Michigan, North Carolina (Greensboro), and California (Irvine), as well as Wellesley, Tufts, and Leeds.
He is a former poetry editor of The Paris Review. In addition to his collections (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007); The Lords of Misrule: Poems, 1992 – 2001 (2002); Dark Horses: New Poems (1992); and Cross Ties: Selected Poems (University of Georgia Press, 1985), Kennedy has published numerous works for children, including more than ten collections of verse and two novels over the past two decades. Recently, Kennedy and his wife Dorothy have collaborated as editors on several textbooks, including Knock at a Star: A Child’s Introduction to Poetry (Little, Brown & Company, 1999).
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’ Prizefor his work, The Lords of Misrule: Poems 1992-2002. Kennedy accepted the Poetry Society of America’s Robert Frost Medal for lifetime service to poetry in 2009. In 2015, he received the Jackson Poetry Prize, awarded by Poets & Writers.
Kennedy lives in Bed-ford, Massachusetts, with his wife and their five children.