Marty Smith is a poet of Te Ati Awa descent. Her debut collection, Horse with Hat (Victoria University Press, 2014) was a finalist in the Kathleen Grattan Award 2011, and won the Jesse McKay award for best first book of poetry in the 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards. Her poem, Agnus Dei, was shortlisted for the 2013 Bridport Prize and placed in the Joy Harjo Poetry Award. Marty is currently working on a non-fiction book about the racing world, building on her own experience as a track-work rider. She teaches English and Creative Writing at Taradale High School, and belongs to the Wellington Tenths Trust.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SMITH, Marty (1956 -) is a poet, whose debut collection Horse with Hat (Victoria University Press, 2014) was a finalist in the Kathleen Grattan Award 2011, and won the Jesse McKay award for best first book of poetry in the 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards, and was a finalist for the overall award for poetry.
Marty grew up on a remote hill country farm between Pahiatua and the sea, and learned to ride from an early age. Horse with Hat is a conversation with her father that combines autobiographical and poetic motifs. Horses themselves are, as Emma Neale put it in her NZ Poetry Shelf review, “a nostalgic and potent link back to the author’s past, but they also connect the reader to the exhilarating movement of the poems (as though you are riding them bareback, wind in your hair so to speak). Poems are both reined in (diligently crafted) and set free (open to intuitive turns)”.
Horse with Hat also looks at the effects of the gift of silence from the men in her family who suffered during the Second World War. “It is important to me,” says Marty, “because it opens up a discussion about what happened to ex-servicemen.”
Marty experiments with sound “to snap my poems into shape”. As part of that, she weaves the vernacular – “particularly swearing” – into her work. The Otago Daily Times said, “Smith's poems are not fluffy and nice…You get the grit and you get the open views. The reader is caught up in the violence, the threat of violence, grease and oil, bad tempers and men at war.”
Her poem, Agnus Dei, was shortlisted for the 2013 Bridport Prize and placed in the Joy Harjo Poetry Award. Her work has been anthologised in Best New Zealand Poems (2009, 2011, 2014, 2016 and 2017), and in Best of Best New Zealand Poems (VUP 2011), as well as being widely published in online journals and anthologies.
Marty has worked as a teacher at Taradale High School since 1986. She teaches extension writing to gifted and talented students from Years 5-8 in the Taradale Cluster Group of schools, as well as leading writing workshops in her own and other schools. Marty also teaches Scholarship English by VLN to students in the South Island.
Marty completed her MA in Creative Writing at Victoria University in 2005. She teaches part time at Taradale High School, and was formerly the Creative Director for Readers & Writers events for the Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival. She has given them up to go to the track at Hastings.
With the help of an arts grant from Creative New Zealand, she is writing a non-fiction book about the lives of people who work with racehorses, and how difficult and dangerous it is. She is an insider, having been a trackwork rider in New Zealand and the UK. On her website, there is a video of her riding a gallop on the July Course at Newmarket, England, in 1982, in slo-mo to music. Once racing gets in your blood, you can never leave.
MEDIA LINKS AND CLIPS
- Marty Smith's page at Victoria University Press
Updated January 2017.