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by Timothy Steele




Since the appearance of Timothy Steele’s first collection of poems in 1979, growing numbers of readers and critics have recognized him as one of the best and most significant poets of his generation. Widely credited with anticipating and encouraging the revival of poetry in traditional form, Steele has produced a body of work praised for its technical accomplishment, its intellectual breadth, and its emotional energy. Toward the Winter Solstice, Steele’s first collection of new poems in twelve years, features his characteristic grace, wit, and power, while extending his range. In addition to the relatively short lyrical, descriptive, and contemplative poems he has always written so well, this collection offers several middle-length pieces that read almost like compressed novels. Addressing a variety of topics and themes, Toward the Winter Solstice explores the relationship between the world of nature and the world of ideas. In one way or another, the poems attempt to link the external material universe with that sense of inward self-awareness central to our experience of life. Throughout, Steele writes with a clarity that not only illuminates his subjects but also acknowledges and preserves their ultimate mystery and complexity.
Download Toward the Winter Solstice: New Poems epub
ISBN: 0804010900
ISBN13: 978-0804010900
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Poetry
Author: Timothy Steele
Language: English
Publisher: Swallow Press; 1 edition (April 26, 2006)
Pages: 72 pages
ePUB size: 1930 kb
FB2 size: 1311 kb
Rating: 4.9
Votes: 900
Other Formats: txt mbr lit docx

Whitehammer
This is the first book (even though its a poetry book) that's been assigned for a college English course that I've actually liked. I love his poems. Analyzing them in class made me love them even more. Great poet and his stories are deep.
avanger
For anyone who craves the return of formal verse to the forefront of poetry, witness the vanguard of its approach. Tim Steele brings comfort, completion, and tidings to those of us who prefer the artistic value of metrical and rhyming verse. His inclusion of nature and the everyday enable the concreteness of his verse to be felt more with each read. Prepare to keep this book at your bedside for continued reading, and obtain anything and everything you can by this talented poet.

In this collection, his rhyming verse is the most resonating, but his blank verse is stirring in its own right.
Uylo
"We love the things we love for what they are," the conclusion of Robert Frost's poem, "Hyla Brook," could aptly summarize the sensibility that informs much of Timothy Steele's new poetry collection. To spend a late summer afternoon with these well-groomed, quietly eloquent, balanced poems of deep observation, superior accuracy, and frequent sly humor, is to experience an entirely pleasurable, refreshing awakening of the mind and senses to the dazzling details of the world, as if we'd ingested an expertly measured dose of a controlled substance, whose effect was to render us perfectly, gloriously sane.

Steele elevates the ordinariness of what the poems are about, not through the use of inflated language, imaginative transformation, or symbolic significance, but by the careful, unselfish acts of sheer attention he devotes to the factual presence of his subjects.

The city of Los Angeles is lucky in the poems set in its locales, wrought with such high skill, they illuminate for us what sets this city apart from any other, as well as what it has in common with all places. In "Daybreak, Benedict Canyon," we experience the haunting mists of early morning fog, followed by its subsequent burn-off, when "Cars snaking up Mulholland Drive/ Will flash their windshields at the rising sun," and vistas are clear all the way to the ocean, "...glimpsed through a green hollow in a ridge, / Pacific in its sunny sparks and glints/ Beyond San Pedro's Vincent Thomas Bridge."

With "a fine concreteness," to use Richard Wilbur's term, Steele allows us to visit some typical features we may not be in the habit of considering, such as the activities of the "Sepulveda Basin Mallards;" the quality of life "At the Chautauqua Channel;" what's to be done with the mangled body of a "Didelphis Virginiana," an American Opossum, killed in traffic at the intersection of 18th and Robertson; and the plain wisdom of "Freudian Analysis," when a Great Dane, passing in a luxury car, "riding shotgun" next to its owner, barks out the window at a terrier on the sidewalk, " 'Woof! Woof! / I've got a Lexus and you've got a leash!' / Driver and dog, quite clearly, haven't learned/ That anybody can achieve an ego: / The real trick is resolving to transcend it."

As he contemplates the grace-amid-squalor of a "Fountain in the City," Steele manages, in my opinion, to describe the essence of his own work, ever-rewarding and fresh-flowing throughout,

As if with a magnanimous good will

Which all of the surrounding world had lost

But which no deprivation could exhaust.
Gralinda
This is my favorite kind of poetry collection--the sort that makes me grab my spouse by the sleeve and say, "Listen to this." As you might expect from Steele's indispensable books on prosody, he is a master of form. But more important, he's brilliant at fusing meaning and meter, and writes with a depth of feeling that should put to rest, once and for all, the strangely-popular notion that "real poetry" these days must be written in free verse. Simply put, he is one of our greatest living poets.

One thing other reviewers haven't noted here, but that's well worth mentioning, is Steele's wit. Sometimes rueful, often puckish, it crackles in poems such as "Didelphis Virginiana," his elegy for a road-kill opossum that "lies ironically in the crosswalk," and "Faustina," about a cat whose "interest... in avian life is strictly a la carte."

I look forward to sending copies of TOWARD THE WINTER SOLSTICE to friends and family this winter, and sooner.
Gabar
This is a book of quiet observation and recollection--no car chases or interplanetary warfare here. But the images and message of these poems, heightened by Timothy Steele's skillful use of rhyme and meter, linger long after the book is put down. For my money this is one of the best books of poetry in quite some time.

Many of Steele's most memorable poems in prior books deal with the fleetingness of pleasure ("Eros" and "An Aubade") and of life and relationships ("The Skimming Stone" and "Walking Her Home"). In the new book, though, Steele focuses on the persistence of what is closely seen or deeply felt.

"Joanna, Wading" vividly describes a lake as seen by an elderly woman who swam there as a girl. The sunlight casts a "net of rippling, molten bands" on the water and the sandy lake floor; a school of minnows floats before her for a moment in "suspended flash-and-glide"; a dragonfly "blue-brilliantly" skims the surface. The poet notes off-handedly, "Despite age, all this still occurs," and it seems a passing thought; but this theme of good things persisting pervades the book.

"Ethel Taylor" similarly celebrates a quiet life well lived, using an easy-going blank verse and reflective tone reminiscent of Frost's "The Black Cottage."

Another echo of early Frost (Frost's "A Tuft of Flowers") is turned into something strikingly different and original in "The Sweet Peas." The poem concerns a confused, dying neighbor with brain cancer who complimented a flower garden she thought she saw earlier that day, though actually it faded long ago. With inticate, twining sentences like the flowered vine he describes, Steele pays tribute to his neighbor's grace and gratitude that also persist in memory long after they're gone. It's a stunning poem.

Though the poems on what really lasts (the title poem "Toward the Winter Solstice" is another) form the core of the book for me, there is much else to admire here on other themes, too. "April 27, 1937" draws a brave and chilling parallel between Franco's slaughter of civilians at Guernica (a Nazi-supported try-out of Gernany's World War II tactics) with the civilian devastation caused by the Allies' later bombings at Dresden and Hiroshima, carpet-bombing in Vietnam and, by implication, the shock-and-awe bombings designed for civilian terror in our own day. "Siglo de Oro" uses Cervantes' Don Quixote and Velasquez' paintings to reflect on the interplay between art and life. "A Muse" cleverly depicts artistic inspiration as a stand-offish, would-be lover who gives the poet just enough encouragement to keep him frustratingly in pursuit of "art's rich and magical suggestiveness," despite success that is only sporadic.

This book has a rare blend of quiet meaning with a well-tuned sound system. Listen in!