Ken Smith

Rating: 4.67
Rating: 4.67

Ken Smith Poems

They are listening in the wires,
in the walls, under the eaves
in the wings of house martins,
in the ears of old women,

one thing then another

one story then another conversation
always interrupted by another conversation

They spent my life plotting against me.
With nothing to do but cultivate themselves,
but to be there, aligning their shadows,
they were planning to undo me,

At evening watches the duck
slow feeding the waterline.

Praises the duck. Such a fine


After Max Ernst's 'Europe after the Rain'

In the dark
each sits alone

there’s only ever one argument: his,
bawling out whoever punctuates
the brief intervals his cussing
| interrupts, something unheard, reason perhaps.

I tell a wanderer's tale, the same
I began long ago, a boy in a barn,
I am always lost in it. THe place
is always strange to me. In my pocket

Sure today it could come in a fast plane
named perhaps for the pilot's mother,
the city ends in a smear in the road
and that in a child's shoe. No one

Ken Smith Biography

Kenneth John Smith, poet, born December 4 1938; died June 27 2003 Ken Smith was born in Rudston, a small village in Yorkshire. His father (a farm worker and then greengrocer shop owner), whose life he explores in an early poem, Family Group, moved around, and Ken attended junior schools all over the county. After grammar school in Hull and Knaresborough, he did national service in the air force from 1958, returned to Hull in 1960 and married his first wife, Ann Minnis. Known as one of England’s most prominent poets, Smith is the author of over a dozen books of poetry, a fictional work (A Book of Chinese Whispers, 1986), and two works of non-fiction (Inside Time, 1989, and Berlin: Coming in from the Cold, 1990). He was a recipient of the Lannan Foundation Award for poetry in 1997 and of the Cholmondely Award for poetry in 1998. His most recent collection of poems, Wild Root (1998), was the autumn 1998 Poetry Book Society Choice, and was nominated for the 1999 T.S. Eliot Award. From 1963 to1969, Smith worked as co-editor of the Stand, and was the founding editor of the South West Review from 1976 to 1978. He was writer-in-residence at Clark University (1972-1973), Leeds University (1976 –1978), and Kingston Polytechnic (1979-1981). Smith’s verses come to us from a no-man's land that lies in-between placement and displacement. On a rainy Colombian night, he held a poetry reading in the city square in Medellin, and wrote about inmates from Her Majesty’s Prison in Wormwood Scrubs (Wormwood, 1987). In his journey through time, he wrote Tender to the Queen of Spain (1993). In Transylvania, he collected stones “veined with the shapes of letters” and arranged them into a farewell message. "Ken Smith is a poet who has the ability to craft real poetry, sometimes harsh, sometimes sentimental, but never to be ignored." L K Robinson)

The Best Poem Of Ken Smith

The Secret Police

They are listening in the wires,
in the walls, under the eaves
in the wings of house martins,
in the ears of old women,
in the mouths of children.

They are listening to this now.

So let's hear it for the secret police,
a much misunderstood minority.
After all, they have their rights,
their own particular ways of seeing things,
saying things, cooking things,
they too have a culture uniquely their own.

                  And we think

they should have their own state
where they could speak their own
incomprehensible tongues, write
their confessions, their own unknown histories,
cultivate their habits of watching
by watching each other, and fly
their own flags there, at attention
on parade in their medals at their monuments
on their secret anniversaries, making speeches,
singing praises to the God of Paranoia.
And at the end of the day
bury their dead, publish coded obituaries
to each other, and rest at last
in their own kind of peace, forever.

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