The 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 infected with the personality of the author: a quirky, whimsical observer of the mundane world around her, which she shows to be full of surprises.
‘Elizabeth Smither’s world is the people she knows, the places she visits, the animals she encounters. As they appear in her work they take on mysterious, sometimes surreal, qualities. Her imaginative world is charming and enchanted, peculiar, whimsical, and often very funny’ – C. K. Stead
‘W. H. Auden once defined poetry as “a game of knowledge, a bringing to consciousness, by naming them, of emotions and their hidden relationships”. This definition suits Smither’s poetry, too, with its sophistication, its wit and humour, its playfulness, its candour, its tenderness, its exploration through simile and metaphor of the unexpected relations between things’ – Peter Simpson
‘The freshness of Elizabeth’s vision, her altogether metaphorical way of looking at the world, constantly surprises. Then there is the course her poems take, rising into something which hits, or is very like, the sublime. Her work is replete with a humanity that draws the reader in, moves us and stays with us, achieving what the Chinese call ‘the meaning beyond the words’ – Diana Bridge
Elizabeth Smither has written five novels, five collections of short stories and seventeen poetry collections, the most recent of which was The Blue Coat (2013). She has twice won the major award for New Zealand poetry 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 this collection.