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Peter Steele

Peter Steele

Peter Steele (1939–2012) was a poet, academic, Jesuit priest, and Professor Emeritus of English literature at the University of Melbourne. His publications included seven books of poetry: Word from Lilliput (1973), Marching on Paradise (1973), Invisible Riders (1999), Plenty: Art into Poetry (2003), The Whispering Gallery: Art into Poetry (2006), White Knight with Bee-Box: New and Selected Poems (2009), and The Gossip and the Wine (2010). He wrote for ABR many times between 1982 and 2012.

‘Sergeant’, a new poem by Peter Steele

June–July 2005, no. 272 01 June 2005
Ter Borch would know him, this latter-day companion          of the cavalryman bowed on his mount,shoulders and haunches sapped with exhaustion: and Sherman,          bright-eyed, red-handed, a hellion to order:and the mailed believers of Krak.   They’re less to him than the chevrons, the emu cockade,          the ... (read more)

Peter Steele reviews ‘Dating Aphrodite: Modern adventures in the ancient world’ by Luke Slattery

November 2005, no. 276 01 November 2005
Reading Luke Slattery’s Dating Aphrodite, I was reminded of dining once with the classical scholar Bernard Knox and the poet Anthony Hecht. Neither man was young: each had experienced remarkable and appalling things during World War II: and both had found ways of transposing those experiences into the register of art. They were at once unillusioned and instinctively creative. Slattery invokes K ... (read more)

Peter Steele review ‘Dance of the Nomad: A study of the selected notebooks of A.D. Hope’ by Ann McCulloch

December 2005–January 2006, no. 277 01 December 2004
Here is an entry in one of A.D. Hope’s notebooks: it is from 1961: ‘Ingenious devices for letting in the light without allowing you to see out, such as modern techniques provide – e.g., glass brick walls, crinkle-glass, sanded glass and so on – remind me very much of most present-day forms of education.’ This is a representative passage from the notebooks. Lucid itself, it bears on eleme ... (read more)

‘Vincent Buckley: Aspects of the imagination’ by Peter Steele

June-July 2006, no. 282 01 June 2006
This is one way of doing it: No New Thing  No new thing under the sun:The virtuous who prefer the dark;Fools knighted; the brave undone;The athletes at their killing work;The tender-hearts who step in blood;The sensitive paralysed in a mood;The clerks who rubber-stamp our deaths,Executors of death’s estate;Poets who count their dying breaths;Lovers who pledge undying hate;The self-made ... (read more)

Peter Steele reviews 'A Brief History of the Smile' by Angus Trumble

April 2004, no. 260 01 April 2004
Some years ago, at a busy intersection in Chicago, Popeye’s Fried Chicken sported a notice saying, ‘Now Hiring Smiling Faces’. It seemed to cry out for a poem, or at least a memory. If Angus Trumble’s A Brief History of the Smile does not allude to it, this is not for want of curiosity or vivacity on his part. Trumble’s book comes out of the same stable as Diane Ackerman’s A Natural H ... (read more)

Peter Steele reviews 'Peripheral Light: Selected and New Poems' by John Kinsella

December 2003–January 2004, no. 257 01 December 2003
Born in Perth, I came as a boy to think of myself as a Yorkist: my summer holidays were often spent in that glittering town, and the first sound I can remember is the intransigent call of crows over the road there from the city. For entirely good reasons, the place is almost a myth to me. In deeper and more complex ways, that territory is mythic to John Kinsella. His Peripheral Light would look v ... (read more)

'Littoral Truth' by Peter Steele and 'What I Have Written I Have Written' by Peter Porter

June 2010, issue no. 322 01 June 2010
In an essay on the poetry of George Crabbe, Peter Porter wrote, ‘It is a great pleasure to me, a man for the littoral any day, to read Crabbe’s description of the East Anglian coast.’ Happily, there is by now a substantial and various array of writings about Porter’s work, and I would like simply to add that his being, metaphorically, ‘a man for the littoral’, with all its interfusions ... (read more)

Peter Steele reviews 'The Tree in Changing Light' by Roger McDonald

November 2001, no. 236 01 November 2001
Roger McDonald seems never to do things twice in the same way. To be solemn about it, he has a mind which is both capacious and vivacious: events, experiences, things at large flood in to stock its territory, and become the livelier from their environment. Refreshed himself by Australia, he refreshes some of it in return. The Tree in Changing Light is a case in point. This is a meditative work wh ... (read more)
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