Poets Resist: Jeff Steudel
Jeff Steudel's Foreign Park (Anvil Press) voices concerns about the natural world and our relationship with it, exploring both our individual and collective impact on the environment. As the poems detail the effects of destruction on our land, they also peek into the communities in Vancouver's coastal cityscape, asking questions about everything from death to fidelity. Below Jeff shares a poem from his collection, his inspirations behind his work, and some insight into what poetry as resistance means to him.See more details below
This year we feel everyone could see a little more solidarity and community, so we're getting poetically political with Poets Resist, a series dedicated to poetry as a form of resistance. Every day on the blog we will feature a poet whose work explores one of these topics: colonialism and violence, homophobia and transphobia, environmental destruction, and/or the !@#$% patriarchy.
Jeff Steudel's Foreign Park (Anvil Press) voices concerns about the natural world and our relationship with it, exploring both our individual and collective impact on the environment. As the poems detail the effects of destruction on our land, they also peek into the communities in Vancouver's coastal cityscape, asking questions about everything from death to fidelity. Below Jeff shares a poem from his collection, his inspirations behind his work, and some insight into what poetry as resistance means to him.
ALU: What are some books that inspired or informed Foreign Park?
JS: The poems were written over many years, so really there are a lot of books that inspired and influenced my work. The ones that immediately come to mind are Jack Gilbert’s The Great Fires, Daphne Marlatt’s and Robert Minden’s Steveston, Stephen Hume’s Simon Fraser, and Tomas TranstrÖmer’s The Deleted World.
ALU: If you were protesting environmental destruction, what would your protest sign read?
JS: During the Enbridge protests in Vancouver, my sign was “Stephen Harper is an Environmental Terrorist.” Now, I think it would have something to do with challenging the tired idea that we need new pipelines to pay for clean technology. The problem is that people of my generation have been hearing that rationale for our whole adult lives. Sure, it may be easier to keep doing what we have been, but it definitely isn’t better. Maybe something like this: CEOs and politicians should have to go and live in the communities where their products and/or policies cause destruction.
ALU: Why did you write this collection?
JS: I wrote the collection because I love poetry and the way a poem can very quickly move me to another time and space. Also, the ideas in Foreign Park are important to me; they were, and for the most part still are, under my skin. Among other things, I wanted to write about our individual and collective impact on the environment. It is easy for us ignore the impacts we have on the environment: a tailpipe of a car does not spew red smoke that lingers and settles on the road, chemicals down a drain and into a river leave our houses without much of a trace. It’s like when Lady Macbeth says, “A little water clears us of this deed,” and, of course, we all know it doesn’t.
ALU: What does poetry as resistance mean to you?
JS: Good question. I view poetry more as a way of understanding, of acceptance. Reading and writing poetry has helped me reflect on my daily life, my choices, and the world around me. Rita Wong’s “Fluorine” is an excellent example of how a person’s simple actions have far-reaching effects. With poetry I try to open up, to explore. I try to resist buying plastic.
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Jeff Steudel's poetry has appeared in several publications including, PRISM international, CV2, The Fiddlehead, subTerrain, and Canadian Literature. He has received the Ralph Gustafson Poetry Prize, and his work was chosen as a finalist for the CBC Literary Awards. Foreign Park is his first book of poetry. He lives in Vancouver.
Photo: Aaron Aubrey
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Buy Foreign Park or any of our other featured poetry month collections and get a Poets Resist pack of a patch and buttons to wear to your next protest. And if you need some more resistance poetry inspiration, check out our poetry bot!
Keep up with us all month on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook with the hashtag #poetsresist.
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