Canberra-based poet Melinda Smith was born in the Central West of New South Wales (NSW). She grew up in Orange, NSW, then moved to Canberra when she was seventeen to study at the Australian National University (she graduated in Japanese Studies and Law in 1995). Apart from spending a year in Osaka, Japan, two years in the UK and six months in Washington, DC, Smith has resided in Canberra since her graduation. She has worked as a University tutor, English teacher, tour guide, tea maid, barmaid, telemarketer, solicitor, public servant and software consultant. In 1996 she started a PhD in Japanese History at the University of Cambridge, but did not complete it.
'Melinda Smith writes with exuberance and verve in a variety of forms, old and new. She is personal, opinionated,quirky, and you never know what a poem of hers will do. It is like some firework of unknown make and provenance, spluttering into incandescent life with more than a hint of danger. Wide-eyed surprise is her metier and unsurprisingly she is often to be found in the dashing pages of Quadrant where Les Murray has encouraged just such qualities for many years. (Publication summary)
'First...Then... is a short collection of 24 poems, mostly dramatic monlogues in various voices. The poems focus on the experience of living with autism, but you do not need to know or be an autistic person to enjoy this book. The poems are by turns moving, harrowing and laugh-out-loud funny, and provide a unique window into a much misunderstood facet of the human experience.'