Kay Smith

Of all the modernist poets in New Brunswick to have emerged at mid-century, none have been as undeservedly overlooked as Kay Smith. Born in Saint John on 30 April 1911, Smith emerged as a leading poetic voice in the Saint John arts and literary community during the 1930s. Publishing in Canada’s foremost modernist magazines throughout the 1940s and 50s – including Contemporary Verse, Preview, First Statement, and The Fiddlehead – her first collection, Footnote to the Lord’s Prayer and Other Poems, appeared in 1951. Defying the somewhat dubious dictum that modernist poetry must be impersonal, Smith developed a poetic voice that was innovative, concrete, and imagistic in form, but deeply personal and emotionally complex in subject and tone. The themes of spirituality, existentialism, reverential awe, and sexuality feature prominently in her early work, while her later poetry, collected in The Bright Particulars (1987), combines these earlier themes with reflections on maturing and old age. A woman poet writing in a male-dominated – and often chauvinistic – tradition of modernism, Smith was among the first Canadian poets to explore female sexuality in verse. Though her poetry has suffered from critical neglect, her deft use of imagery and avant-garde motifs place much of her work among the best of Canada’s mid-century modernists.

For the full Author Page on Smith, click here.


The linked Author Page contains the poems "When a Girl Looks Down," "Autobiography," "The One Stem," "Again with Music," "Return to Innocence," "Old Women and Love," and "The Old in One Another's Arms."