Cherry Smyth is a poet, novelist and art critic. Her first poetry collection When the Lights Go Up (Lagan Press, 2001) traces her move from Ireland to London and the negotiations of identity required in a new country. One Wanted Thing (Lagan Press, 2006), her second volume, is less concerned with loss than with a buoyant affirmation of love, acceptance and the wider issues of the fall-out of events like 9/11 and 7/7: how these changed our world-view. In Test, Orange (Pindrop Press, 2012), she brings together a range of poetic forms from haiku to longer free-verse poems dealing with things we face in a female body. In 2000–01, Cherry was writer-in-residence in a women’s prison and published their extraordinary work in A Strong Voice in a Small Space (Cherry Picking Press, 2002), which won the Raymond Williams community-publishing prize in 2003.
Cherry has always found locating the right visual image a way to provide insight and resolve emotional and intellectual questions. She also writes for art magazines and conveys this knowledge and love of visual culture in her own writing. In 2013, she co-curated the painting exhibition Limber: spatial painting practices for the Herbert Read Gallery. Hold Still (Holland Park Press, 2013), Cherry’s debut novel, imagines how Jo Hiffernan, the model for both Whistler and Courbet, achieved her own creative fulfilment, challenging sexist Victorian mores. Her next project is being dreamt of in the darkest part of night.