Marty Smith

Horse with Hat

ISBN: 9780864739278


Marty Smith grew up in remote hill country between Pahiatua and the sea. Although her father and grandmother lived on the same farm, one at each end, her father never spoke to her grandmother in her living memory, and their feud is the subject of quite a few poems. They also look at the effects of the gift of silence from the men in her family who suffered the Second World War. Her father made his kids learn to ride bareback, hanging on by their knees, so the whole time she was a track-work rider in New Zealand and England, she never fell off. Other poems look at the long relationship between horse and man and the thousands of years the horse has stood as an icon of speed, power and civilisation. She is interested in how humans invest faith in tokens and totems.

Marty grew up in a time when smoking was communal and companionable, and the people she loved floated through a blue haze like mirages. She wanted to touch them back into life again. As her cousin Barbara says, the child of the most silent brother of all is telling their stories for them.

She teaches at Taradale High School, where she finds the same collective integrity, and the same warmth and humour.

Cover and illustrations by Brendan O'Brien.


Winner NZSA Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for poetry at the NZ Post Book Awards.

Finalist Poetry category of NZ Post Book Awards.


Praise for Horse with Hat:

'Smith's poems are not fluffy and nice. They are full of jagged adventures. You get the grit and you get the open views. The reader is caught up in the violence, the threat of violence, grease and oil, bad tempers and men at war.' ODT

'Much of Horse with Hat seems constructed to melt together into a pleasing harmony, adding up to something close to the effect of a prose memoir.' Nelson Mail

'Marty Smith is an accomplished soundsmith and storyteller. She has been able to assemble a book that has great stand-alone lyrics, but which also tells a story when you read the poems in one sitting.' – English in Aotearoa

77 pages


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