#96 Smurf K.
Smurf K’s work has divided critics ever since his unforgettable debut, titled simply ‘Smurf’, which contained only the word ‘smurf’ employed in an almost infinite variety of forms, shapes, sizes and fonts over 117 pages. The collection was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the fury of the avant-garde was unleashed like never before, one prominent member from Cambridge calling it “typical mainstream nonsense: self-referential, unimaginative balderdash which might have appeal only for readers with the emotional structure and restricted vocabulary of a two-year-old kangaroo.” However, poet laureate at the time, Andrew Motion, wrote in The Times that it was “possibly the most intriguing debut this decade...”, although he did add, “...apart from [a 28-page list of other notable debut collections of the decade]”. A second collection, ‘One-Word Poems that Never Use the Word, Smurf’, was published the following year to similar consternation, but Smurf K argued strongly that the radical switch in direction was vital to his development and range.
He is currently running workshops in the Seychelles for dropout students from the Faber Academy and is working on a third collection, ‘I Am Not a Hobbit, but Would Like a Part in the Movie, Peter Jackson.’ Last year, he won the inaugural €250,000 'Award for the Deployment & Advancement of Poetic Theories in Small European Towns' for a sequence painted on paving stones, based entirely on words and lines used by celebrated twentieth-century European bureaucrats.
[photo from jonasholmstrom's photostream, used under a Creative Commons License]