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New and Selected Poems

by (author) John Steffler

Vehicule Press
Initial publish date
May 2002
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2002
    List Price

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For the last twenty years, John Steffler has written poems of profound philosophical curiosity grounded in the landscapes of Newfoundland, Southern Ontario, Greece, and New Zealand. In Helix, Steffler's fifth book of poetry, we see the full result of those travels: a lyricism distinguished by its scrupulous phrasing, thrilling evocativeness, and deep-timbred music. Helix presents arresting new work together with a selection from Steffler's three previous much-praised volumes: The Grey Islands, The Wreckage of Play, and That Night We Were Ravenous. This collection is maybe the most persuasive argument yet for considering Steffler, in Don McKay's words, "Canada's most sensuously passionate writer."

About the author

John Steffler (1947) grew up near Thornhill, ON. In 1975, he began teaching at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook, NL. His novel The Afterlife of George Cartwright won the Smithbooks/Books in Canada First Novel Award and was shortlisted for the Governor General's Award and the Commonwealth Prize for best first book in 1992. His other awards include the Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize, the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council Artist of the Year Award, and the Atlantic Poetry Prize for his most recent collection, That Night We Were Ravenous.

John Steffler's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Praise for previous books: "The Grey Islands is a piece of genius, a psycho-logical drama in poetry and prose Steffler's balance and control are extraordinary. Canadian Literature "Steffler is a superb observer of family life. He can also philosophize without sounding silly or pretentious. He is a poet of landscapes and in-scapesÉThe Wreckage of Play is a significant work by a significant poet." The Mail Star "The range of poetic tone in this book [That Night We Were Ravenous], and the precision of its language, articulates why John Steffler is one of our most evocative poets." Ross Leckie, New Brunswick Telegraph Journal

Praise for Helix: "John Steffler is one of our finest lyric poets in mid-career. His lines are wind-whipped ribbons of ebullience, stanzas throughout Helix: New and Selected Poems glow with a love of the-world-out-there, and this warm, celebratory torque is hard won, as opposed to a sentimental applauding." --Ken Babstock, The Globe & Mail
"Not since Raleigh has landscape been so feminine and erotic: never has Canada seemed so bodacious." --Canadian Literature "John Steffler's book Helix: New and Selected Poems should be on your must-read list... Reading him, I was reminded of Basho, the haiku master, who argued that a poet doesn't make a poem, something in him naturally becomes one. And it should come as no surprise that he was once described as "Canada's most sensuously passionate writer." Steffler paints the wilderness in a language that often "knocks and hisses and crackles," but nothing of the poetry here sounds contrived or artificial. Helix is a work that subtly nudges the reader along, never falling prey to the usual grab-bag of bells and whistles. It is a work that teems with images that are celebratory of life, ones that quietly ring with the music of the land." --Carolyn Marie Souaid, The Montreal Gazette
"[The poems of Helix] reveal an unexpected side to the exotic and hidden dimensions of the familiar. ... Part keen-eyed naturalist, part exuberant philosopher, Steffler memorializes the terrain of his beloved Newfoundland, in particular, with disarming whimsy and grace. His descriptions are vivid and metaphysically resonant, too. ... His language slips easily from chatty colloquialism to lyricism. Add to that versatility an affable comic streak and you've got a collection that crackles with kinetic energy." --Barbara Carey, Toronto Star
"The poems show a perennial interest in the power of wilderness, the dangerous, vital forces in the psyche and the physical world." --Memorial University President's Report

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