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Smart, Elizabeth

poetry book

(Canadian, 1913–86)

Born into a wealthy Ottawa family, Elizabeth Smart was educated at private schools and King's College, London, before she met the poet George Barker and began a complex affair that produced four children. Smart's most celebrated work is the short, highly condensed novella By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept (1945). Half-way between poetry and prose, the book is a passionate and intense account of the breakdown of a relationship, and has almost no exact equivalent in English. The Assumption of the Rogues and Rascals (1978) adopts a similar poetic style to satirize and celebrate the bohemian lifestyle of the artists and writers Smart knew, but the book lacks some of the force of its predecessor. Smart also wrote poetry, and her journals were published as Necessary Secrets (1986).

Anais Nin, Anna Kavan  WB

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