Stevie Smith’s Birthday Bog

That’s not a typo. I did say “bog.” You’ll understand soon enough.

Drawing by Stevie Smith

Happy birthday to poet Stevie Smith, born Florence Margaret Smith. Had she lived she would be 114 years old today, though I’m sure she’d be annoyed about it. As it was she lived only 69 years, and while you may know nothing about her at all, I guarantee that she was an influence to many contemporary poets, maybe even you. Nobody, especially in the UK, was writing the way she was at the time.

Below, in the first video, I talk a bit about that and read her poem “Pretty,” originally recorded on my YouTube channel six years ago. The still shot for that is kinda weird, but I’ll leave it there for posterity. In 2012, I wrote more extensively about Stevie and recorded the second video, “Our Bog is Dood.” There’s the bog I was talking about. Check out the discussion on that piece, and ponder the implications. Feel free to add to it. I never really shut my comments off. Oh, and there’s a tiny bit of a blooper reel at the end of that clip, as I was kind of on a blooper kick at the time.

The final of the three videos here is a musical adaptation of her piece, “Not Waving But Drowning,” sung by the magnificent Tanita Takarim, a B side to her 1995 single, “I Might Be Crying.” I can see why these two songs were paired together.

So, happy birthday, Stevie. I like your spunk. I appreciate your wisdom. And I love your style. Thanks for contributing to the world of modern poetry. You do not get credit enough.

Speaking of credit, the featured image for this post is from the National Portrait Gallery, © Jane Bown, 1969. Read more of Stevie Smith’s poetry here.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Brian Dean Powers says:

    “Pretty” reminds me of Mary Oliver’s poems, though I don’t think she would write a poem of that length.

    Your dog is a dude?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. slpmartin says:

    Now that reading was ….well…”pretty”! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Thanks. you made me giggle.


  3. I was just reading her poem “The Heavenly City”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh! I think I read that one, but I haven’t recorded it. I’ll have to go look it up.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. There is a movie from the late 1970s entitled “Stevie” where the British actress, Glenda Jackson, portrays her. I’d never heard of Stevie Smith before seeing this movie and Glenda Jackson does a terrific job depicting this talented and eccentric woman. Thanks for this poem and information about Stevie Smith — I agree she was ahead of her time!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on David J. Bauman and commented:

    In honor of the birthday of Stevie Smith, I’m sharing this newly updated version of a celebratory post from two years ago. I hope you enjoy the poetry and song!


Talk to me:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.