Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Canadian Poet Laureate John Steffler to Deliver Memorial University's Pratt Lecture

By Janet Harron

Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate, John Steffler, will deliver Memorial University’s 2008 Pratt Lecture on Saturday, March 15.

Mr. Steffler, who recently retired from teaching English and Creative Writing at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, will explore the special value of poetry in contemporary society during this public lecture, titled The Uses of Poetry.

Ironically, it is the commercial uselessness of poetry, Mr. Steffler argues, that is the foundation of its value to human kind. Since poets are in no danger of making money for themselves or others, they can be as honest and natural as they please.

“Poetry really is able to express the state of our culture’s soul, our fears, desires, vanities, neuroses, nobilities, shames, obsessions and wisdoms: the whole insides,” said Mr. Steffler.

He went on to say, “Poetry brings out people’s private experience, puts people in touch with their inner selves, and refreshes their awareness of the outside world.”

Poetry, John Steffler maintains, is the underpinning of all literature as it makes the most exact and intense use of language. He calls it “language off the leash” as compared to the practical, dull applications of language in the everyday, modern world. It also acts as an energy source that can rejuvenate individuals and keep them in touch with the life of the imagination.

Originally from Ontario, John Steffler has lived in Corner Brook since 1974, when he began teaching at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College...

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The unabridged audio edition of The Grey Islands by John Steffler (narrated by John Steffler, Frank Holden, Janis Spence, Deidre Gillard-Rowlings and Darryl Hopkins) is available from