Harry Smith (poet)

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Harry J. Smith
Harry joseph smith.jpg
Born(1936-10-15)October 15, 1936
DiedNovember 23, 2012(2012-11-23) (aged 76)
Alma materBrown University
Literary movementSmall press
Notable worksPushcart Prize
Notable awardsMedwick Award

Harry Joseph Smith (1936-2012)[1] was a poet, editor, and founder of the American small press movement of the later twentieth century.


He was born on October 15, 1936. Educated at Brown University (class of 1957) Smith first became known in the small press world as the founder of The Smith, a literary magazine and journal of experimental writing that was in publication from 1964 to 1974.[2] Later he established a second magazine, Pulpsmith, and a small press, The Smith-Publishers.[2] He is recognized as a mover and a shaker in the burgeoning small press scene of the 1960s and 1970s.[3] Typical prose can be found in The Word and Beyond: Cosmologists of the Word with Dick Higgins, Richard Morris, and Donald Phelps published in 1982 and The Sexy Sixties (2002), poetry in Trinity (1975), Sonnets to P.L.A. (1979), and Ballads for the Possessed (1987).

His magazine, The Smith and press featured among others James T. Farrell,[4] H.L. Van Brunt, Stanley Nelson, Sidney Bernard, Seymour Krim, Tuli Kupferberg, Stephen Dwoskin, Bill Rane, Alicia Ostriker, Jana Harris, Karen Swenson, Terry Kennedy, Les Whitten and Richard (Ward) Morris.[5] From 1968-1980, Smith edited The Newsletter (On the State of the Culture), which reported on both mainstream and underground publishing scenes. As editor, he was quickly cited as

a new and remarkable phenomenon. He's a literary muckraker. . . . Harry Smith has demonstrated the value of a muckraker in the cosy New York literary world.[6]

An anthology of avant-garde poetry Inside the Outside[7] features a selection of his poetry.[8] Smith was a founding editor along with Anaïs Nin, Buckminster Fuller, Hugh Fox, Ishmael Reed, Joyce Carol Oates, Len Fulton, et al. of the annual Pushcart Prize for small press writing. Following the publication of his epic poem, Trinity, he was awarded PEN's 1976 Medwick Award for 'his poetry, his commitment to human values, and his achievements as an editor.'"[9] Smith and Marion Petschek Smith were married in 1959; they had three children. After Marion's death in 1995, he was married to Clare Melley Smith. Smith died on November 23, 2012.[10]

Ralph Farris, of the string quartet ETHEL, originally set Smith's poem Solstice People to music and it was featured in the 2007 In the House of ETHEL: Solstice concert at the World Financial Center's Winter Garden.[11] Three of Smith's poems, including Solstice People, have now been set by Mr. Farris for SATB choir and string quartet, and have been incorporated into ETHEL's Music of the Sun program with Native American flutist Robert Mirabal.[12]


  1. ^ "Smith, Harry 1936-2012" Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series, Vol. 29, 1990, p.399.
  2. ^ a b Guide to the Harry Smith papers 1972-1982, Brown University Library, 2010 [1]
  3. ^ Fox, Hugh (1994), "Harry Smith," The Ghost Dance Anthology, Whitston, p. 184, ISBN 0-87875-450-4.
  4. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1991/04/26/obituaries/menke-katz-85-poet-appreciated-for-his-lyrical-style.html Menke Katz
  5. ^ "The Smith 30 Years", New Titles Catalog, The Smith, 1994.
  6. ^ Sypnowich, Peter (May 22, 1969), "Some Literary Demolition Jobs," Toronto Daily Star.
  7. ^ (2006) ISBN 0-97725-241-8
  8. ^ "Inside the Outside.(Inside the Outside: An Anthology of Avant-Garde American Poets)". Entrepreneur. April 2006. Retrieved 12 February 2011.
  9. ^ Mandel, Peter (October 1985), "Underground Publisher; Profile: Harry Smith '57," Brown Alumni Monthly, p. 57.
  10. ^ See obituary in the Brooklyn Eagle, and a selection of poems posted in his memory
  11. ^ Ethel's 2nd Annual Winter Solstice Concert, All About Jazz, November 11, 2007 [2]
  12. ^ Music to celebrate the sun at Dominican, Franklin Park Herald-Journal, by Dorothy Andries, January 24, 2012 5:04PM "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-02-04. Retrieved 2012-07-13.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)