Elizabeth Smither wins the 2018 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards Poetry Award

15 May 2018
Elizabeth 1
Elizabeth Smither. Photo by Marcel Trompe


Elizabeth Smither has won the 2018 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards Poetry Award for Night Horse – an honour bestowed on her twice before!

Elizabeth Smither has written five novels, five collections of short stories and eighteen poetry collections including Night Horse. She has now won the major award for New Zealand poetry three times and was the 2001–2003 Te Mata Poet Laureate. In 2004 she was awarded an honorary DLitt from the University of Auckland for her contribution to literature and was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. She was given the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in 2008. In 2016 she won the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize, New Zealand’s most valuable poetry award, judged by Paul Muldoon, and those poems are included in Night Horse.


‘It’s a thrill when a book of poetry can truly reflect the imagination of the poet, and in the cover of Night Horse I see the whimsical, enchanted, deep and dark world conjured up by Elizabeth Smither. We congratulate Elizabeth on a great book, a powerful vision and a way with words that have earned her so many admirers here and overseas. It’s a privilege for the Auckland University Press team to work with Elizabeth,’ said Sam Elworthy, Auckland University Press Director.


‘The 2018 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards Poetry Award is for a book by an esteemed and celebrated poet who contributes greatly to the New Zealand writing community. The poems in Night Horse are gentle, uplifting, tender, humorous, well-crafted and luminous,’ said the Poetry category judges.



Night Horse is the eighteenth collection of poetry from Elizabeth Smither. These poems take the everyday – mothers and daughters, cats and horses, books and bowls, slippers and shirts – and transform them into something fresh: sometimes surreal, sometimes funny, often enchanted. And throughout, the work is infused with the personality of the author: a quirky, whimsical observer of the mundane world around her, which she shows to be full of surprises.


In her eighteenth collection, Smither continues to turn the everyday into epiphanies . . . . Her works satisfy with their stepping stones and the spaces between. – David Hill, Weekend Herald


A good book always has the power to convert, to seduce. This is one of those. – Hamesh Wyatt, Otago Daily Times