William Jay Smith (April 22, 1918 - August 08, 2015)
Born: 22nd April, 1918
Died: 8th August, 2015
Nationality: American
Profession/Occupation: Poet
Region: Louisiana, Pittsfield, Massachusetts

William Jay Smith Facts


William Jay Smith, (born April 22, 1918, Winnfield, Louisiana, U.S.--died August 18, 2015, Pittsfield, Massachusetts), American lyric poet who was known for his precision and craftsmanship and for his variety of subjects and styles.

The son of an army officer, Smith spent much of his early life on a U.S. Army post, a period he recalled in Army Brat: A Memoir (1980; reissued 1991). After attending Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri (B.A., 1939; M.A., 1941), he served in the U.S. Navy from 1941 to 1945. He subsequently did graduate work at Columbia University and at the Universities of Oxford and Florence. He taught at several colleges and universities, served in the Vermont House of Representatives from 1960 to 1962, and in 1968-70 was consultant in poetry to the U.S. Library of Congress (now poet laureate consultant in poetry).

Smith's first published collections, Poems (1947) and Celebration at Dark (1950), reveal the breadth of his narrative range and his surprising fealty to metered and rhyming verse. He began to experiment with free verse in The Tin Can, and Other Poems (1966). Smith's other works include Plain Talk: Epigrams, Epitaphs, Satires, Nonsense, Occasional, Concrete, and Quotidian Poems (1988), The World Below the Window: Poems, 1937-1997 (1998), The Cherokee Lottery: A Sequence of Poems (2000), and The Girl in Glass: Love Poems (2002).

Smith began collecting his whimsical and nonsense poems for children in Laughing Time (1955) and Boy Blue's Book of Beasts (1957). His later collections of children's poetry include Puptents and Pebbles: A Nonsense ABC (1959), Typewriter Town (1960), Ho for a Hat! (1964; rev. ed., 1989), Laughing Time: Collected Nonsense (1990), and Around My Room (2000). He also edited several volumes of children's poetry.

Smith made a reputation as a translator with versions of Poems of a Multimillionaire by Valery Larbaud (1955) and Selected Writings of Jules Laforgue (1956), and he edited and translated other poetry from several languages, including Federico Garcia Lorca's Songs of Childhood (1994). His The Spectra House (1961) is a study of well-known literary hoaxes and lampoons.

Top 12 William Jay Smith quotes

I have always used a great variety of verse forms, especially in my poetry for children. I believe that poetry begins in childhood and that a poet who can remember his own childhood exactly can, and should, communicate to children.
I believe
I believe that
As any parent, teacher, or librarian knows, there is no richer experience than to see children's faces light up at the suspense of a new tale or the surprise of a new poem. The uninhibited joy with which they listen is surely akin to that of adult audiences of old around campfire and hearth.
I have felt at times with groups of children that I was really being what every poet would like to be - a bard in the old sense.
A fresh and vigorous weed, always renewed and renewing, it will cut its wondrous way through rubbish and rubble.
For every artist, experience is never complete until it has been reproduced in creative work.
Creative work
To the poet, his travels, his adventures, his loves, his indignations are finally resolved in verse, and this, in the end becomes his permanent, indestructible life.
In the end
To Tennessee Williams we owe a special debt. In a tragic age, he has transformed loneliness by naming it for us, suffered sordidness with beauty, graced poor hurt lives with love and pity.
I have published so many books in so many years. I can't complain about any lack of attention. But I've never been placed as a Southern writer, which I really am. So I was happy finally to be published by someone in the South.
I always had good recognition from the Southern writers, but the publishers never took any notice of that.
I still use a typewriter from time to time, but because I can't type as well as I used to, I really don't use one very much.
From time to time
I believe that poetry should communicate.
I believe
I believe that
It was the enchantment of spoken verse that led me to write for children.

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