Kendrick Smithyman

1922-1995; Prolific poet, teacher.

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Kendrick Smithyman OBE was born in Te Kopuru, New Zealand, and moved with his parents to Auckland at the age of about ten during the Depression. He lived in Auckland for the rest of his life but the Northland of his childhood remained a continuous preoccupation of his writing. He married the poet Mary Stanley in 1946 and remarried after her death in 1980. For nearly two decades after WWII, Smithyman was a primary school teacher particularly interested in special education. He then joined the English Department of The University of Auckland, from which he retired in 1987.

Smithyman is a singular and somewhat paradoxical figure among New Zealand poets. In the later 1940s he became established as a leading member of the post-war generation of poets, a position he maintained until his death. During his lifetime he published eight substantial collections as well as several minor ones, wrote extensively for journals and was included in most significant anthologies of New Zealand poetry from 1950. Two posthumous collections were published by Auckland University Press, Imperial Vistas Family Fictions and the critically acclaimed Atua Wera, which was a finalist in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards.