Timothy Steele

(1948 / Vermont / United States)

Biography of Timothy Steele

Timothy Steele poet

Timothy Steele is an American poet. Steele generally writes in meter and rhyme, and his early poems, which began appearing in the 1970s in such magazines as Poetry, The Southern Review, and X. J. Kennedy's Counter/Measures, are said to have anticipated and contributed to the revival of traditional verse associated with the New Formalism. He, however, has objected to being called a New Formalist, saying that he doesn't claim to be doing anything technically novel and that Formalism "suggests, among other things, an interest in style rather than substance, whereas I believe that the two are mutually vital in any successful poem." Notwithstanding his reservations about the term, Steele's poetry is more strictly "formal" than the work of most New Formalists in that he rarely uses inexact rhymes or metrical substitutions, and is sparing in his use of enjambment.

In addition to four collections of poems, he is the author of two books on prosody: Missing Measures, a study of the literary and historical background of modern free verse; and All the Fun's in How You Say a Thing, an introduction to English versification. Steele was an original faculty member of the West Chester University Poetry Conference, and received its Robert Fitzgerald Prosody Award in 2004.
Born in Burlington, Vermont in 1948, Steele attended the city's public schools. At an early age, he became interested in poetry, including that of Robert Frost, who was appointed the state's Poet Laureate in 1961, and William Shakespeare, several of whose plays were staged each summer at a Shakespeare festival at the University of Vermont in Burlington.

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Pacific Rim

Unsteadily, I stand against the wash
Flooding in, climbing thigh, waist, rib-cage. Turning,
It sweeps me, breaststroking, out on its swift
Sudsy withdrawal. Greenly, a wave looms;
I duck beneath its thundering collapse,
Emerging on the far side, swimming hard
For the more manageable, deeper waters.
How the sea elevates! Pausing to tread it
And feather-kicking its profundity,

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