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Ken Smith

Ken Smith (1938-2003) was a major voice in world poetry, a writer whose work shifted territory with time, from land to city, from Yorkshire, America and London to war-ravaged Eastern Europe. He was called "the godfather of the new poetry" because his politically edgy, cuttingly colloquial, muscular poetry influenced a whole generation of younger British poets, from Simon Armitage to Carol Ann Duffy. Ken Smith was born in Rudston, East Yorkshire, the son of an itinerant farm labourer. He worked in Britain and America as a teacher, freelance writer, barman, magazine editor, potato picker, BBC reader and creative writing fellow, and was writer-in-residence at Wormwood Scrubs prison in 1985-87. He received America’s highly prestigious Lannan Literary Award for Poetry in 1997, and a Cholmondeley Award in 1998. Ken Smith was the first poet to be published by Bloodaxe, with his pamphlet Tristan Crazy in 1978.
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