While the 1976 Oxford University Press edition of Stevie Smith’s Collected Poems is an exceptionally handsome book, and probably sufficient for many readers, those crazy about this wonderful and strange poet will obviously want Will May’s splendid All the Poems. It includes not only much hitherto uncollected material but also pages of concise bibliographical notes.
“All the Poems is admirably professional and thorough, from its formal, scholarly introduction to its four appendixes to its two indexes, and it is almost disconcerting to see this poet of radical whimsy so coolly annotated. Yet it is also completely appropriate. As May notes in the first sentence of his preface, Smith is a “great poet.” She is a great poet because almost half a century after her death, her poems are more startling and bizarre than those of many poets who deliberately set out, as one suspects Smith never did, to be startling and bizarre.
...an invaluable and complete collection of her poems and drawings ... Will May opts for Stevie Smith’s final versions, notes earlier variants, provides brief but helpful notes to her wide and eclectic variety of sources and allusions, and gives clues to some of the characters in the poems. Though consistency must be the best editorial policy, occasionally I regret his commitment to her final choices.