Peter Steele once described his teaching and writing as ‘acts of celebration’. He is – and was – quite literally a celebrant: in his role as a Jesuit priest, and as a poet of praise. Those acts of celebration extend to his prose works as well, both his homilies and his literary essays, especially those that take up the matter of poetry. Peter Steele passed away, after a long illness, in June of this year, but not before his latest offering was presented at a book launch he attended the week before he died and a few days after he received a national honour. Unable to speak, he had his brother read a list of five major concerns that animated his poetry and which he looked for in others: ‘Imagination; learning from experience; fascination with experience in all of its many forms; the world imagined in a different way; and earth and spirit interlocked.’ This new book, of eighteen essays and six poems, bears out those concerns, establishing his voice among us in a kind of afterlife, not of fame, but of familiarity, someone we might turn to, that is, as an intimate or a familiar.
Peter Steele as celebrant
A lantern rather than a spotlight
Braiding the Voices: Essays in Poetry
by Peter Steele
John Leonard Press, $32.95 pb, 319 pp, 9780980852349
If you are a single issue subscriber you will need to upgrade your subscription to view back issues.If you are already subscribed, click here to log in.
Paul Kane is poetry editor of Antipodes and artistic director of the Mildura Writers’ Festival. His most recent book is The Scholar's Rock (2011), a Selected Poems in Chinese translation (Otherland Publishing). He divides his time between New York and rural Victoria.
By this contributor
Leave a comment
Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.
NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to email@example.com. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.