Reviews

“Steele, who was in the vanguard of the 1980s swing back to regular meter and rhyme in American poetry, is a formalist’s formalist, so technically adroit that he could write about anything and produce a poem repeatedly rewarding for music and shapeliness alone, and subject matter be damned. He isn’t so cavalier about meaning, however, as that characterization of his exquisite craftsmanship may suggest. Indeed, he writes about most important matters: the kindness he did 30 years ago for a little boy in Paris, the faithfulness of a common bird that doesn’t migrate, setting the star of faith atop the roof for another winter solstice, watching familiar surroundings emerge out of the historic and biblical possibilities a foggy daybreak suggests. The importance felt is, first, intimate, personal, deliberately nondazzling; it only gradually comes to seem general and cosmic. A good Steele poem often recalls the best domestic and modest Longfellow and Whittier poems, which have worn well because of their formal assurance. Steele’s work seems every bit as durable.”
Booklist, March 1, 2006.

“The poems are formal but varied, intricate without seeming delicate, and enact a pleasurable balance of humorous storytelling and earnest, heart-felt discovery. . . . Once again Steele has done what he does best: offer celebratory, attentive verses that reveal a mind eager to both inspire and instruct, to witness the world sincerely while still making it his own.”
American Poet, Fall 2006

“If ever a poet has been able to wring a noble private order from ignoble public chaos it is Steele, whose Toward the Winter Solstice moves back and forth between the pastoral Vermont of the poet’s youth and the world of his macadamized adulthood.”
     Hudson Review, Winter 2007

 

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