Braiding the Voices: Essays in Poetry

In Braiding the Voices, Peter Steele brings to bear a lifetime of reading, writing, and teaching prose and poetry. With gusto and focus, these essays concert poets and poems of different tempers and aspirations. They are by Gwen Harwood, Les Murray, Peter Porter, Vincent Buckley and, further afield, Fleur Adcock, Richard Wilbur, Anthony Hecht, W.S. Merwin, Deborah Randall, Ben Belitt, Norman MacCaig, R.S. Thomas, P.J. Kavanagh, Seamus Heaney and Gerard Manley Hopkins. The writing of some of his own poems is also addressed. Characteristically, Steele refers copiously also to much else.

The book investigates some of the ways in which individual poets have found what they most wanted to say, and how their art takes its place in the general conversation of humanity itself. Applauding the dexterity and the variety with which this feat is carried off by the poets, Steele's distinctive prose is deliberately fashioned to be as hospitable to insight as possible.

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book reviews

Although it is always an unhappy task to be looking at a posthumous book, it is also a pleasure, after focussing on books of poetry for the first six years of these reviews, to be able to review a book of criticism. In point of fact the proportions are about right: somewhere between fifty and seventy-five books of poetry are published annually in Australia but one could probably count the books of poetry criticism in the last six years on one hand.....

From Martin Duwell,  Australian Poetry Review , October 1 2012

Peter Steele

Peter Steele, who was born in Perth in 1939, moved to Melbourne in 1957 to join the Jesuits, of whom he remains a member. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Melbourne, his base for a lifetime of teaching and writing, along with the equivalent of several years at universities in Chicago, New York and Washington DC. Alongside numerous books of poetry, including ‘The Gossip and the Wine’ (JLP, 2010) and ‘White Knight with Beebox: New and Selected Poems’ (JLP, 2008), he has published books of literary criticism, including studies of Jonathan Swift and Peter Porter.

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