The essays charmed me right away. The Poetry Foundation bio calls Francis's poetry "often charmingly whimsical," and that describes these essays, though I'd add "often mischievous." Here's one of them in its entirety (page 39):
His tone is always (deceptively) light, and his barbs are often directed at himself, as in "The Satirical Rogue" (85):Somebody -- Nobody
Somebody, hearing that Emily had called herself a Nobody, decided to be a Nobody too -- not just any Nobody but a Nobody who really was a Somebody, like Emily.
I asked the Irish poet if he would be surprised to hear that I was one-quarter Irish myself. Could he tell by looking at me?Obviously Francis isn't for everybody, but I feel he's a kindred spirit. Cute, too. Odd I've never encountered his work before.
After scrutinizing me for a moment, he remarked: "There's something humorous in your right eye."
"My right eye?" I cried. "What about my left?"
"That one's more serious," he assured me.