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This report is taken from PN Review 110, Volume 22 Number 6, July - August 1996.

Kendrick Smithyman Michael Hulse

Kendrick Smithyman, one of the longest-serving, most prolific and most highly regarded poets in New Zealand, died of cancer in Auckland on 28 December.

Born in the mining village of Te Kopuru on 9 October 1922, Smithyman spent his first years in an old people's home run by his mother, till his family moved to Auckland at the height of the Depression. Auckland remained his home, and he rarely left it, except for a period on Norfolk Island during the War, six months at the University of Leeds in 1969, and a visit to Greg Gatenby's literature festival in Toronto. For eighteen years he was a primary school teacher, and for twenty-four (till his retirement in 1987) a tutor in English at Auckland University.

Smithyman published poetry before he was out of his teens, and his first volume, Seven Sonnets, appeared in 1946. This was followed by The Blind Mountain (1950), The Gay Trapeze (1955), The Night Shift (1957), Inheritance (1962), Flying to Palmerston (1968), Earthquake Weather (1972), The Seal in the Dolphin Pool (1974), Dwarf with a Billiard Cue (1978), Stories about Wooden Keyboards (1985), Are You Going to the Pictures? (1987), Selected Poems (1989) and Auto/Biographies (1992, reviewed in PNR 98) as well as a critical study of New Zealand poetry, A Way of Saying (1965). Peter Simpson, the MP and critic who edited the Selected Poems and spoke at the memorial service on 2 January last, puts Smithyman's published output at about ...


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