Stevie Smith

Stevie Smith (1902-1971) was born in Hull, England, but when she was three she moved with her parents and sister to Avondale Road in Palmers Green—an address now immortalized in her own writings, the Hugh Whitmore stage play, Stevie, and its highly acclaimed film version, starring Glenda Jackson. Here she stayed for over sixty years, after her parents’ death living with and devoted to her beloved “Lion Aunt.” Born Florence Margaret, nicknamed Stevie after Steve Donghue the jockey, she first attempted to publish her poems in 1935 but was told to “go away and write a novel.” Novel on Yellow Paper was the result. This and her first volume of poems (often illustrated) established her reputation as a unique poetic talent. New Directions also publishes her Collected Poems, New Selected Poems, and Some are More Human Than Others.

All the Poems

Poetry by Stevie Smith

Edited by Will May

Stevie Smith is among the most popular British poets of the twentieth century. Her poem “Not Waving but Drowning” has been widely anthologized, and her life was celebrated in the classic movie Stevie. This new and updated edition Stevie Smith’s collected poems includes hundreds of works from her thirty-five-year career. In addition to discovering never-before-published verses, the Smith scholar Will May gathers the poems and illustrations from all her published volumes, provides fascinating details about their provenance, and describes the various versions Smith presented.…
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Best Poems

Poetry by Stevie Smith

Extraordinarily funny, with the fresh eye of a visitor from another world, Stevie Smith is a poet to savor. Wielding a throwaway wit and the strangest irony, Stevie Smith was deeply read in the classics and yet sprinkled her poetry with delightful doodles. Her poems are often very dark; her characters are perpetually saying “goodbye” to their friends or welcoming death. At the same time her work has an eerie levity.…
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A Very Pleasant Evening with Stevie Smith

Fiction by Stevie Smith

Stevie Smith is a magnificent wild card in the deck of this century’s great writers––beyond category and past calculation. As Annie Dillard has said, “She is a wonder.” A great poet and novelist (Novel on Yellow Paper), Stevie Smith also wrote delightful short prose. And here, in A Very Pleasant Evening with Stevie Smith, is the very best of it: eight stories and four essays mixing throw-away charm and deadly sophistication.…
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Novel on Yellow Paper

Fiction by Stevie Smith

Pompey Casmilus, Stevie Smith’s loquacious alter ego and heroine, works as a secretary and writes down on yellow office paper this wickedly amusing and brainy novel. “Dear Reader,” she addresses us politely, ironically, in the whirlwind of her opinions on death, sex, art. Greek tragedy, friendship, her Aunt, the magnificent “Lion of Hull,” marriage, Nazism, gossip, and the suburbs. But most of all Pompey talks about love: love for friends, love for Freddy––for Pompey is young and in love, but must she marry?…
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Some Are More Human Than Others

Poetry by Stevie Smith

The British poet Stevie Smith, as her many readers well know, sprinkled her drawings throughout her poetry collections. In this sketchbook, Some Are More Human Than Others, she did the opposite––she spiced her drawings with words. Together they resound with what Robert Lowell described as Smith’s “unique and cheerfully gruesome voice” and open up a little world of peculiar experience: something somber and something gay, innocent and cruel––truths of our world trapped off guard.…
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Collected Poems Of Stevie Smith

Poetry by Stevie Smith

This New Directions Paperbook brings back into print the 1975 Oxford University Press edition of Stevie Smith’s Collected Poems, her complete poetic works edited by her long-time friend James MacGibbon. “On gray days when most modern poetry seems one dull colorless voice speaking through a hundred rival styles, one turns to Stevie Smith and enjoys her unique and cheerfully gruesome voice. She is a charming and original poet,” commented Robert Lowell about the book that introduced Stevie to American readers, her Selected Poems (New Directions, 1964).…
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Now, forty-five years after her death, bound inside this large annotated collection, [Smith] can be celebrated as a major English poet of the twentieth century. She is a writer of astonishing skill, range, comedy, and depth of feeling; she is inimitable, strange, and utterly original.

—Hermione Lee, The New York Review of Books`

That sense of the uncanny, the unheimlich or the peculiar, the grip of childhood terrors, the chance—perhaps our greatest fear—of never being known, the intimacy of wickedness, they are all here, in these poems.

—Cynthia Zarin, The New Yorker

A landmark volume brimming with wit, surprises, sardonic pleasures, and abiding compassion.

—Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)

A poet who deserves a place, among her follow modernists, as one of the best, silly-serious, funny-sad, mock mock-heroic poets of our time.

—Angela Leighton, The Times Literary Supplement

Smith’s great gift is to sit on our shoulder like a feisty bird that’s traveled a long distance, has been half starved on the way, and hopes your map will be a different from hers.

—Barbara Berman, The Rumpus

Those crazy about this wonderful and strange poet will obviously want Will May’s splendid All the Poems

—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post

She is a great poet because almost half a century after her death, her poems are more startling and bizarre than those of many poets who deliberately set out, as one suspects Smith never did, to be startling and bizarre.

—David Orr, The New York Times Book Review

I love her, I am crazy about her, she is innocent and smashing like a Blake only new, and a lot of pathos under the deadpan sad funny stuff, a lot of true religion.

—Thomas Merton
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