Lucie-Smith, (John) Edward (McKenzie)

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LUCIE-SMITH, (John) Edward (McKenzie)

Nationality: British. Born: Kingston, Jamaica, 27 February 1933. Settled in England in 1946. Education: King's School, Canterbury; Merton College, Oxford, B.A. 1954. Military Service: Education officer, Royal Air Force, 1954–56. Career: Worked in advertising, 1956–66. Freelance journalist. Co-founder, Turret Books, London, 1965. Awards: Rhys memorial prize, 1962; Arts Council Triennial poetry prize, 1962. Fellow, Royal Society of Literature. Agent: Rogers Coleridge and White Ltd., 20 Powis Mews, London W11 1JN, England.



(Poems). Oxford, Fantasy Press, 1954.

A Tropical Childhood and Other Poems. London and New York, Oxford University Press, 1961.

Penguin Modern Poets 6, with Jack Clemo and George MacBeth. London, Penguin, 1964.

Confessions and Histories. London and New York, Oxford University Press, 1964.

Fir-Tree Song. London, Turret, 1965.

Jazz for the N.U.F. London, Turret, 1965.

A Game of French and English. London, Turret, 1965.

Three Experiments. London, Turret, 1965.

Gallipoli—Fifty Years After. London, Turret, 1966.

Cloud Sun Fountain Statue. Cologne, Hansjörg Mayer, 1966.

Silence, music by Wallace Southam, London, Turret, 1967.

"Heureux Qui, Comme Ulysse… " London, Turret, 1967.

Borrowed Emblems. London, Turret, 1967.

Towards Silence. London, Oxford University Press, 1968.

Teeth and Bones. London, Pebble Press, 1968.

Six Kinds of Creature. London, Turret, 1968.

Snow Poems. London, Turret, 1969.

Egyptian Ode. Stoke Ferry, Norfolk, Daedalus Press, 1969.

Six More Beasts. London, Turret, 1970.

Lovers. Frensham, Surrey, Sceptre Press, 1970.

The Rhino. London, Steam Press, 1971.

A Girl Surveyed. London, Hanover Gallery, 1971.

The Yak, The Polar Bear, The Dodo, The Goldfish, The Dinosaur, The Parrot (posters). London, Turret, 1971.

Two Poems of Night. London, Turret, 1972.

The Rabbit. London, Turret, 1973.

The Well-Wishers. London and New York, Oxford University Press, 1974.

Seven Colours. Cambridge, Rampant Lions Press, 1974.

Inscriptions/Inscripciones. Mexico City, Ainle Press, 1975.

Beasts with Bad Morals. London, Leinster Fine Books, 1984.


The Dark Pageant. London, Blond and Briggs, 1977.


Mystery in the Universe: Notes on an Interview with Allen Ginsberg. London, Turret, 1965.

Op Art, edited by Duncan Taylor. London, BBC, 1966.

What Is a Painting? London, Macdonald, 1966.

Thinking about Art: Critical Essays. London, Calder and Boyars, 1968.

A Beginner's Guide to Auctions (as Peter Kershaw). London, Rapp and Whiting, 1968.

Movements in Art since 1945. London, Thames and Hudson, 1969; revised edition, 1975, 1984; as Late Modern: The Visual Arts since 1945, New York, Praeger, 1969; revised edition, 1976; revised edition, Thames and Hudson, 1984.

A Concise History of French Painting. London, Thames and Hudson, and New York, Praeger, 1971.

Eroticism in Western Art. London, Thames and Hudson, and New York, Praeger, 1972; as Sexuality in Western Art, London, Thames and Hudson, 1991.

Symbolist Art. London, Thames and Hudson, and New York, Praeger, 1972.

Movements in Modern Art, with Donald Carroll. New York, Horizon Press, 1973.

The First London Catalogue: All the Appurtenances of a Civilized, Amusing, and Comfortable Life. London, Paddington Press, and New York, Two Continents, 1974.

World of the Makers: Today's Master Craftsmen and Craftswomen. London, Paddington Press, and New York, Two Continents, 1975.

The Waking Dream: Fantasy and the Surreal in Graphic Art 1450–1900, with Aline Jacquiot. London, Thames and Hudson, and New York, Knopf, 1975.

The Invented Eye: Masterpieces of Photography 1839–1914. London, Paddington Press, and New York, Two Continents, 1975.

The Burnt Child: An Autobiography. London, Gollancz, 1975.

Joan of Arc. London, Allen Lane, 1976; New York, Norton, 1977.

How the Rich Lived, and Work and Struggle: The Painter as Witness 1870–1914, with Celestine Dars. London and New York, Paddington Press, 2 vols., 1976–77.

Henri Fantin-Latour. Oxford, Phaidon, and New York, Rizzoli, 1977.

Art Today: From Abstract Expressionism to Superrealism. Oxford, Phaidon, and New York, Morrow, 1977; revised edition, as Art Now: From Abstract Expressionism to Superrealism, Morrow, 1981; revised edition, Phaidon, 1983.

Tóulouse-Lautrec. Oxford, Phaidon, 1977; New York, Dutton, 1978; revised edition, Phaidon, 1983.

Work and Struggle: The Painter As Witness 1870–1914. New York and London, Paddington Press, 1977.

Outcasts of the Sea: Pirates and Piracy. London and New York, Paddington Press, 1978.

A Concise History of French Painting. London, Thames and Hudson, and New York, Oxford University Press, 1978.

Super-Realism. Oxford, Phaidon, 1979.

Furniture: A Concise History. London, Thames and Hudson, and New York, Oxford University Press, 1979.

Cultural Calendar of the Twentieth Century. Oxford, Phaidon, 1979.

Art in the Seventies. Oxford, Phaidon, and Ithaca, New York, Cornell University Press, 1980.

The Story of Craft: A History of the Craftsman's Role. Oxford, Phaidon, and Ithaca, New York, Cornell University Press, 1981.

The Art of Caricature. London, Orbis, and Ithaca, New York, Cornell University Press, 1981.

The Body: Images of the Nude. London, Thames and Hudson, 1981.

The Sculpture of Helaine Blumenfeld. London, Sinclair Browne, 1982.

Bertie and the Big Red Ball (for children). London, Murray-Gallery Five, 1982.

Jan Vanriet. Amsterdam, Van Gennep, 1982.

A History of Industrial Design. Oxford, Phaidon, and New York, VanNostrand, 1983.

The Thames and Hudson Dictionary of Art Terms. London and New York, Thames and Hudson, 1984.

American Art Now. Oxford, Phaidon Press, and New York, Morrow, 1985.

Art of the 1930's: The Age of Anxiety. London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, and New York, Rizzoli, 1985.

Lives of the Great Twentieth-Century Artists. London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, and New York, Rizzoli, 1986.

Sculpture Since 1945. Oxford, Phaidon, and New York, Universe, 1987.

The Self-Portrait: A Modern View, with Sean Kelly. London, Sarema Press, 1987.

The New British Painting, with Carolyn Cohen and Judith Higgins. Oxford, Phaidon, 1988.

Impressionist Women. London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, and New York, Crown, 1989.

Art Today. Oxford, Phaidon, 1989.

Art in the Eighties. Oxford, Phaidon, 1990.

Art Deco Painting. Oxford, Phaidon, 1990.

Outcasts of the Sea: Pirates and Piracy. Norwalk, Connecticut, Easton Press, 1990.

Richard Lippold, Sculpture, with Curtis L. Carter and Jack W.Burnham. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Patrick and Beatrice Haggerty Museum of Art, Marquette University, 1990.

Fletcher Benton. New York, H.N. Abrams, 1990.

Alexander. London, Art Books International, 1992.

Rustin: Drawings. London, T. Heneage, 1991.

Harry Holland: The Painter and Reality. London, Art Books International, 1991.

Art & Civilization. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Prentice Hall, 1992.

Wendy Taylor. London, Art Books International, 1992.

Andres Nagel. Barcelona, Ediciones Poligrafa, S.A., 1992.

Elizabeth Fritsch: Vessels from Another World, Metaphysical Pots in Painted Stoneware. London, Bellew-Northern Centre for Contemporary Art, 1993.

Art and Civilization. New York, H.N. Abrams, 1993.

Latin American Art of the Twentieth Century. New York, Thames and Hudson, 1993.

Frink: A Portrait. London, Bloomsbury, 1994.

Race, Sex, and Gender in Contemporary Art: The Rise of Minority Culture. London, Art Books International, 1994.

American Realism. London, Thames and Hudson, 1994.

John Kirby: The Company of Strangers. Edinburgh, Mainstream Publishing, 1994.

Elisabeth Frink: Sculpture since 1984 and Drawings. London, ArtBooks International, 1994.

Chadwick. Stroud, Gloucestershire, Lypiatt Studio, 1997.

Ars Erotica: An Arousing History of Erotic Art. London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, and New York, Rizzoli, 1997.

Zoo: Animals in Art. London, Aurum Press, and New York, Watson-Guptill, 1998.

Adam: The Male Figure in Art. London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, and New York, Rizzoli, 1998.

Judy Chicago: An American Vision. New York, Watson-Guptill, 2000.

Editor, Rubens. London, Spring, 1961.

Editor, Raphael. London, Batchworth Press, 1961.

Editor, with Philip Hobsbaum, A Group Anthology. London, Oxford University Press, 1963.

Editor, The Penguin Book of Elizabethan Verse. London, Penguin, 1965.

Editor, The Liverpool Scene. London, Rapp and Carroll, and New York, Doubleday, 1967.

Editor, A Choice of Browning's Verse. London, Faber, 1967.

Editor, The Penguin Book of Satirical Verse. London, Penguin, 1967.

Editor, Holding Your Eight Hands: A Book of Science Fiction Verse. New York, Doubleday, 1969; London, Rapp and Whiting, 1970.

Editor, with Patricia White, Art in Britain 1969–70. London, Dent, 1970.

Editor, British Poetry since 1945. London, Penguin, 1970; revised edition, 1985.

Editor, with Simon Watson-Taylor, French Poetry Today: A Bilingual Anthology. London, Rapp and Whiting-Deutsch, 1971.

Editor, Primer of Experimental Poetry 1870–1922. London, Rapp and Whiting-Deutsch, 1971.

Editor, A Garland from the Greek: Poems from the Greek Anthology. London, Trigram Press, 1971.

Editor, Masterpieces from the Pompidou Centre. Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou, 1982; London, Thames and Hudson, 1983.

Editor, The Male Nude: A Modern View. Oxford, Phaidon, and New York, Rizzoli, 1985.

Editor, with Paul J. Smith, Craft Today: Poetry of the Physical. New York, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1986; as American Craft Today, London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1987.

Editor, The Essential Osbert Lancaster: An Anthology in Brush and Pen. London, Barrie and Jenkins, 1988.

Editor, Women and Art: Contested Territory, by Judy Chicago. New York, Watson-Guptill, 1999.

Translator, Manet, by Robert Rey. Milan, Uffici Press, 1962.

Translator, Jonah: Selected Poems of Jean-Paul de Dadelsen. London, Rapp and Carroll, 1967.

Translator, Five Great Odes, by Paul Claudel. London, Rapp and Whiting, 1967; Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, Dufour, 1970.

Translator, The Muses, by Paul Claudel. London, Turret, 1967.


Manuscript Collections: Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin; Pennsylvania State University, University Park.

Edward Lucie-Smith comments:

(1970) My activities, though various, seem to revolve about poetry and the modern arts in general. I hate the term "poet." I am simply a man who tries to react honestly to the world.

Since I was one of the founder-members of the Group and for some years chairman of its discussions, I am in that sense a Group poet. Nowadays I cannot think of anyone who writes much like me.

I think my development as a poet could be described roughly as follows: I began in the wake of the Movement, among a group of undergraduate poets at Oxford that included Anthony Thwaite, George MacBeth, Adrian Mitchell, and Geoffrey Hill. I was then a poet of tight conventional forms, and my chief subject was childhood experience. Under the influence of the sessions of the Group, I began to write longer poems, often dramatic monologues, which were greatly influenced by Browning. Poems of this sort appear in my second volume, Confessions and Histories. At this period I gradually became dissatisfied with conventional verse forms and especially with their lack of real flexibility. I began to look for forms that would give (a) greater colloquialism, (b) greater simplicity, and (c) greater concision. The results of these experiments can be seen in my third book, Towards Silence, and I have continued them in my more recent work. The metrical principle in most of my recent poetry is twofold: a strict syllabic "ground," and a melody of strong and light stresses. I use the syllabic pattern to syncopate the meter I have chosen, which is usually mismatched to it, e.g., dactyls and a seven-or an eleven-syllable line. The effect is, I think, very like that of Greek or Latin poetry, without strictly copying Greek or Latin forms. The influences are various: Catullus, the Elizabethan experiments with classical meter and especially Campion, Rochester for his colloquial directness, French medieval poetry, and Pound. I am very concerned to preserve strict prose order of words. A common criticism of my recent work is that it is too "thin," not complex enough. My translators, on the other hand, tend to complain of simplicity that conceals difficulty.

I am interested in extending the scope of poetry, in writing poster poems and poems to be set to music, for example.

My themes are, I think, commonly erotic (poems about love), historical, and aesthetic (poems about artists and works of art, etc.) and occasionally religious.

*  *  *

Edward Lucie-Smith's poetry has ranged over the years from the neatly turned and rhymed Movement verses of his Fantasy Press pamphlet of 1954 to the experimentation and freedom of syllabics in, for example, his collection Towards Silence, published in 1968. Together with this variety and development goes an impression of a conscious artistry, not only in individual poems but also in the compilation of the collections themselves. The poems in Towards Silence gain from being read as a collection, though each poem stands in its own right. There also is the influence of Lucie-Smith's knowledge of and occupation with the visual arts. The carefully juxtaposed visual images are often starkly clear, and the poems themselves have frequently been prompted by paintings or sculpture: "An unstrung bow. The white, slack /Body collapsing. Mourners /Like mountains /Pieta."

The danger with such poetry can be that the artistry too finely applied tends to exclude feeling, but in the best of Lucie-Smith's poetry this is not so. In early personal poems about his boyhood, such as "A Tropical Childhood" or "The Lesson," the feeling is to be clearly felt: "I cried for knowledge which was bitterer /Than any grief. For there and then I knew /That grief has uses." In the group of poems about artists in the collection Confessions and Histories, for example, the popular "Caravaggio Dying" and, to my mind, the much better "Soliloquy in the Dark," he succeeds in expressing an empathy not only with the situation he takes as his subject matter but also with the feelings of the characters involved:

       —how I used to stumble
   From frame to frame and rap upon the glass
   And scratch the canvas with my old man's nails,
   Tears smarting useless eyes with salt and gum.
   Flat is not round. And dankness is not colour.

In later poems, while they use much freer forms, the earlier note of personal feeling comes through strongly:

   Don't wonder what it was
   that filled the space between
   thinking and thinking.
   My day is like a staircase
   with one step missing.

It was the collection Towards Silence that signaled a movement into a more markedly direct simplicity of statement and form, though the implications and overtones may be far from being simple, as in the nearly perfect poem "Silence" that rounds off the book: "Hear /Your own noisy machine, which /Is moving towards silence." From the same period comes the remarkable translation of Paul Claudel in Five Great Odes, in which Lucie-Smith captures the quality and feelings of this high, near baroque poetry. To set this translation beside the simple directness of his own poetry is to illustrate Lucie-Smith's versatility and the range of his accomplishment.

John Cotton