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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.

Peter Steele reviews 'Crete' by Dorothy Porter

April 1996, no. 179 01 April 1996
‘Byron!’, said Max Beerbohm ‘– he would be all forgotten today if he had lived to be a florid old gentleman with iron-grey whiskers, writing very long, very able letters to The Times about the Repeal of the Com Laws.’ As we know, things turned out otherwise, and Byron lives on, in the hallowed phrase, as flash as a rat with a gold tooth. Dorothy Porter’s Crete would be a natural home ... (read more)

'Letter from New York' by Peter Steele

April 2001, no. 229 01 April 2001
To dinner as a guest at the Lotos Club, on East 66th St in New York. Named apparently after Tennyson’s Lotos Eaters’ territory – ‘In the afternoon they came unto a land in which it seemed always afternoon’, not to be confused with Robert Burton’s ‘afternoon men’, who are permanently smashed. The Latos Club’s 1870 Constitution declares its intent to promote and develop literature, ... (read more)

Peter Steele reviews 'Selected Poems' by R.A. Simpson and 'Selected Poems' by Vincent Buckley

November 1982, no. 46 01 November 1982
If any volume of Selected Poems must be in part the autobiography of an imagination, it is subject to the vicissitudes and ironies which attend all autobiography. One gazes at it and finds familiar lineaments, but one also finds mobilities and stands made more evident than a more partial acquaintance can show. The very title is a warning that the whole story –whatever that might be – is not to ... (read more)

Peter Steele reviews 'Saving from the Wreck: Essays on poetry' by Peter Porter

October 2001, no. 235 01 October 2001
The cover illustration of Peter Porter’s selection of essays shows a mosaic from the Basilica di S. Marco, Venezia, in which Noah leans out from the wall of the Ark and releases the questing dove. The last words of the selection go: This is what I have been trying to unearth in my talk – the possible replacing what is not possible, the Poetry we make from our inadequacy – inadequacy not j ... (read more)

Peter Steele reviews 'East of Time' by Jacob G. Rosenberg

September 2005, no. 274 01 September 2005
Most of a lifetime ago, I read of an exhibit at the Bell Telephone headquarters. It consisted of a box from which, at the turning of a switch, a hand emerged. The hand turned off the switch and returned to its box. If this struck me as sinister, it was because the gambit seemed emblematic of human perversity – of a proneness to self-annulment. The years since have given little reason to change s ... (read more)

Peter Steele reviews 'Collected Poems 1943–1995' by Gwen Harwood

April 2003, no. 250 01 April 2003
W.H. Auden, following Samuel Butler, thought that ‘the true test of imagination is the ability to name a cat’, and plenty of people, poets, and others have believed this: to recast a dictum of Christ’s, if you can’t be trusted with the cats, why should we trust you with the tigers? Gwen Harwood could be trusted with the cats, and with yet more domestic things; here, for example, is her fai ... (read more)

'Littoral Truth: Peter Porter (1929-2010)' by Peter Steele

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)
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