Gerard Smyth was born in Dublin in 1951 and began publishing poetry in the late 1960s when his first poems were published by David Marcus in the New Irish Writing Page of The Irish Press and by James Simmons in The Honest Ulsterman.
New Writers’ Press published a limited edition small collection, The Flags Are Quiet, in 1969 and another limited, hand-printed edition, Twenty Poems in 1971, followed by Orchestra of Silence, a Tara Telephone publication, also in 1971. This early work – highly influenced by his reading of Dylan Thomas and Hopkins – also appeared in thePress’s journal The Lace Curtain.Smyth was born and grew up in the old Liberties area of the city which has influenced, and features in, much of the poetry he has written. It is the factor in his work which prompted the poet Michael Hartnett to say “Gerard Smyth is essentially a city-poet; lyrical, passionate, he may do for Dublin in verse what Joyce did for it in prose”.Another significant, but contrasting, landscape which frequently appears in his poems is the rural area of County Meath where he spent the summers of his childhood and teen years on the small farm on which his mother was born – and where he wrote his first poems at the age of sixteen. He has, up to the present time, maintained close contact with this ancestral ground of his maternal family’s past.Smyth has worked all his professional life as a journalist with The Irish Times with responsibility for arts coverage. He was the newspaper’s poetry critic for several years in the late 1970s. He is currently the newspaper’s poetry editor.
He was elected a member of Aosdana in May 2009. In 2011 he received the O’Shaughnessy Poetry Award from University of St Thomas in St Paul, Minnesota. He is co-editor, with Pat Boran, of “If Ever You Go: A Map of Dublin in Poetry and Song” (Decalus Press), published and chosen as Dublin’s One City, One Book for 2014.
Smyth has participated in readings in such places as Marina Tsvetayev’s house in Moscow, the Cafe de Flor in Paris, the Great Hall of Mirrors in Bucharest and Literaturwerkstatt in Berlin, as well as at most of Ireland’s literary festivals including Cuirt, the Kilkenny Festival and Electric Picnic.
A poet of the mundane and the mysterious, a poet of the everyday and also of the eternal.
– Dennis O’Driscoll
Smyth is a fine lyric poet…close to home in image and event.
– Augustus Young, The Niagra Magazine (New York)
Smyth is a poet of uncommon and unnecessary humility; he holds his poems within strict limits, allowing them little occasion for grandeur or posture. Despite his scrupulous restraint in form, the phrasing frequently manifests a romantic richness which is in turn checked by the impersonality of voice sustained throughout all of these poems.
– W J McCormack
Smyth beautifully discerns that the motion of a journey is a discovery of inwardness. In A Song of Elsewhere, the roots of his Dublin identity easily intertwine with the many elsewheres he encounters in these meditative and moving dream songs of a peripatetic, and restlessly inventive, poet.
– New Hibernia Review.