Finding the True Voice of Feeling: Kendrick Smithyman and New Criticism in New Zealand 1961-1963
Kendrick Smithyman is one of New Zealand’s lesser-known poets and literary critics, but this article argues that he was instrumental in developing a globally oriented critique which provides a welcome line of sight towards both America and the postmodern age. His series of essays on “Post-War New Zealand Poetry”, written between 1961 and 1963 and published in the fringe journal Mate, employed the principles of New Criticism to suggest ways of looking at New Zealand literature that were almost totally at odds with dominant New Zealand critics like Allen Curnow, E. H. McCormick and Bill Pearson. The essays were eventually expanded into the only full-length treatment of New Zealand poetry written (A Way of Saying, 1965), and represent a substantial contribution to the country’s literary critical tradition.
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