The Bright Particulars


100 pages
ISBN 0-920304-54-0
DDC C811'






Reviewed by Alan Thomas

Alan Thomas is a professor of English at the University of Toronto.


A respected poet, born in New Brunswick, educated at Mount Allison and at Columbia universities, Kay Smith has been publishing in magazines and journals in this country and elsewhere for forty years. (Her first book of selected poems, Footnote to the Lord’s Prayer, appeared in 1951.) This selection contains 45 poems from previous books and 28 new ones.

Smith is a poet who sometimes employs regular patterning of form, yet the poems do not seem exercises because of the sincerity of the voice. The editor of this selection, P.K. Page, herself a leading poet, actually characterizes Kay Smith’s poetry as “passionate” and “voluptuous” which is unusual terminology to apply to a poet of an obvious Christian sensibility. But there is unquestionably an ardent tone in the poems which colours everything touched — nature, social intercourse, religious apprehension, and above all, personal love — and which lifts up that experience.

In the first orchard morning
you wake to that divine visitor
in your bed

she writes rhapsodically in “Orchard Morning,” a remarkable poem which confronts love and its loss. Along with the ardour, there is in Kay Smith a conscious facing of the hard nature of life which is perhaps a Maritime value.

Death wore a golden arm
When he struck my brother down …

(from “Autobiography”) exemplifies her bold extravagant style and the poetic confidence which calls up with evident ease the images to express this touch defiance.

The League of Canadian Poets has honoured Kay Smith as Lifetime Member.



Smith, Kay, “The Bright Particulars,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 23, 2024,