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Poetry Canadian

Somewhat Absurd, Somehow Existential

by (author) J.J. Steinfeld

Guernica Editions
Initial publish date
Nov 2021
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2021
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Through these far-reaching and searching poems, J. J. Steinfeld’s work continues to not only orbit a multitude of realities and multifaceted worlds, but to interrogate various aspects of being, whether they appear as the worldly or the otherworldly, the ordinary or the extraordinary, the physical or the spiritual. As Steinfeld concludes in his poem “The End of the World,” somewhat confronting the absurd and somehow embracing the existential: “I want a poem with a good ending / all the thoughts and uncertainties / and missed opportunities / tied together with metaphoric hope / even if that poem is about the end of the world / preposterous and ludicrous / as it might be.”

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

J. J. Steinfeld brings both intellectual naughtiness and wry rigour to his seriously playful philosophical questioning in Somewhat Absurd, Somehow Existential—his seventh collection of poems. These are pieces that probe magic and mystery, faith and fancy, Heaven, immortality, God and metaphoric hope alongside death sentences and “Existential Texting,” in language that is unafraid of its own bounty and imaginative edge.


Elana Wolff, author of Swoon, winner of the 2020 Canadian Jewish Literary Award for Poetry

To enter into a Steinfeld poem is to enter into a world of the fabulist, of conundrums, magical sleight of hand, elegant allegories, and cautionary tales, sometimes dire, sometimes comedically ironic. But make no mistake: beneath this “dialogue with mystery” of this world and the otherworldly, there is an essentially humanistic voice searching for answers to the big questions against seemingly unfair odds—a commuter contemplates love and time on a bus ride; a woman opens the urn containing her husband’s ashes; an elderly man watches old sci-fi films in a seniors’ home and laughs because “they got it all wrong / not even close / those silly, silly, Earthlings.


Brent MacLaine, author of Athena Becomes a Swallow and Prometheus Reconsiders Fire

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