X.J. Kennedy (born 21 August 1929) is a prominent formalist poet, translator, anthologist and writer of children's literature. He was born, Joseph Kennedy, in Dover, New Jersey. Irritated by the frequent confusion with other people named Joseph Kennedy, particularly the father of John F. Kennedy, he added the "X" himself. He graduated from Seton Hall and did a master's at Columbia University. He studied at the Sorbonne and spent six years pursuing a graduate degree in English at the University of Michigan but did not complete his Ph.D.
He has taught English at Michigan, Tufts, Wellesley and many other colleges and universities. In the early seventies he and his wife Dorothy co-edited the influential journal Counter/Measures, a precursor in the New Formalist movement to The Reaper and The Formalist.
Kennedy is most recognized for his light verse, and was the first recipient of the American Academy of Arts & Letters' Michael Braude Award for humorous poetry. His first book, Nude Descending A Staircase, won the Lamont Award of the Academy of American Poets, and his dozens of books have won numerous awards and honors. His most recent book is Lords of Misrule: Poems 1992-2002, and he is also widely known for his "Brats" series of dark children's poetry books, his translation of Aristophanes' Lysistrata, and Tygers of Wrath, an anthology of angry verse. He is an energetic reader even in his late seventies, and will frequently sing several of his poems.