X. J. Kennedy was born Joseph Kennedy in 1929 in Dover, New Jersey, USA (now in Lexington, Massachusetts). When he started to publish his poems, he adopted the pen name to be different from other Joe Kennedys (one of whom was American ambassador to Great Britain).
Since 1961 he has written ten books of verse for big people, a novel, schoolbooks, and 22 books for children, including One Winter Night in August, The Forgetful Wishing Well, and Brats, and most recently City Kids: Street & Skyscraper Rhymes illustrated by Phillippe Béha (Tradewinds Books, Vancouver and London, 2010): Uk version here and US version here.
Kennedy is a Navy veteran and a graduate of the school for foreign French teachers of the Sorbonne, though he has never taught French. He has also taught English, American literature, and poetry writing (if it can be taught) at several colleges including the University of Leeds. He lives in Lexington, Massachusetts, and is the father of five grown-ups and six grandkids who still have a ways to grow. His website is here.
Here is one of his wonderful poems:
“Whose Boo Is Whose?”
Two ghosts I know once traded heads
And shrieked and shook their sheets to shreds—
“You’re me!” yelled one, “and me, I’m you!
Now who can boo the loudest boo?”
“Me!” cried the other, and for proof
He booed a boo that scared the roof
Right off our house. Our TV set
Jumped higher than a jumbo jet.
The first ghost snickered. “Why, you creep,
Call that a boo? That feeble peep?
Hear this!”—and sucking in a blast
Of wind, he puffed his sheet so vast
And booed so hard a passing goose
Lost all its down. The moon came loose
And fell and smashed to smithereens..
Stars scattered like spilled jelly beans.[
“How’s that for booing, boy? I win!”
Said one. The other scratched a chin
Where only bone was – “Win or lose?
How can we tell whose boo is whose?”
© X.J. Kennedy (From Exploding Gravy: Poems to Make You Laugh, Little, Brown and Company, New York and Boston.
Reprinted by permission of the author.)
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