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Poetry Canadian

Absurdity, Woe Is Me, Glory Be

by (author) J.J. Steinfeld

Guernica Editions
Initial publish date
Aug 2017
Canadian, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2017
    List Price

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The 100 wide-ranging and idiosyncratic poems of Absurdity, Woe Is Me, Glory Be confront, grapple with, explore, argue with, and ultimately embrace the human condition as they wend their way through the worldly and the otherworldly aspects of absurdity and existence, the ordinary and the extraordinary spheres of being. They are an attempt to make sense out of senselessness.

About the author

Poet, fiction writer, and playwright J. J. Steinfeld lives on Prince Edward Island, where he is patiently waiting for Godot’s arrival and a phone call from Kafka. While waiting, he has published twenty-two books: two novels, Our Hero in the Cradle of Confederation (1987) and Word Burials (2009), thirteen short story collections—The Apostate's Tattoo (1983), Forms of Captivity and Escape (1988), Unmapped Dreams (1989), The Miraculous Hand and Other Stories (1991), Dancing at the Club Holocaust (1993), Disturbing Identities (1997), Should the Word Hell be Capitalized? (1999), Anton Chekhov was Never in Charlottetown (2000), Would You Hide Me? (2003), A Glass Shard and Memory (2010), Madhouses in Heaven, Castles in Hell (2015), An Unauthorized Biography of Being (2016), and Gregor Samsa Was Never in The Beatles (2019)—and seven poetry collections, An Affection for Precipices (2006), Misshapenness (2009), Identity Dreams and Memory Sounds (2014), Absurdity, Woe Is Me, Glory Be (2017), A Visit to the Kafka Café (2018), Morning Bafflement and Timeless Puzzlement (2020), and Somewhat Absurd, Somehow Existential (2021).

J.J. Steinfeld's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Once more, J. J. Steinfeld stretches the boundaries of the absurd and the existential, hoping to wake us up to the absurdities of the modern world. These poems achieve an intriguing alchemy between the strange and the chilling.

Mark Sampson, author of Weathervane and Sad Peninsula

Picture J. J. Steinfeld walking down a busy street. He carries a book in each hand; one is maybe a prayer book and the other a book of jokes. What he expects in this neighbourhood is mostly bad news. A small crowd listens while the poet defines the nature of irony. He says: “I thought that Heaven would be so much different.” The poems are best when the knife cuts closest.

David Helwig, PEI Poet Laureate (2008-2009)

The subtitle, One Hundred Poems Hovering Between the Absurd and the Existential, to J. J. Steinfeld's new poetry collection is the key to unlock the world view the poems embody: woe and glory. Side by side are sorrow and exaltation, fear and laughter, and, above all, there is the astonishing intelligence of this high-energy poet who holds onto childlike wonder and awe of life while conducting a scintillating and profound existential dialogue with the reader. Buckle up.

Deirdre Kessler, PEI Poet Laureate (2016-2018)

Effusive and buoyant—these carefully drawn poems shape existential questions about living and dying in the twenty-first century. Offering “morsels of wisdom and enchantment” (“Congratulations”) about “change” (“Handwritten Love Letters”), the expressive poems showcase Steinfeld’s eminent powers of observation committed to a broad range. The poems’ topics invoke varied emotions identifiable in the title of the potent, closing poem, “Absurdity, Woe Is Me, Glory Be.”

Sandra Singer, editor of J. J. Steinfeld: Essays On His Works

Steinfeld’s poetry offers an alternative path. His poems make us question the absurdity of our efforts to make meaning, and at the same time, are a testament to the imperative to keep trying despite the odds.

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