Timothy Steele Biography


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Timothy Reid Steele was born in Burlington, Vermont, in 1948 to Edward William Steele, a teacher, and Ruth Reid Steele, a nurse. His New England upbringing is readily apparent in many of his poems, despite the fact that he has spent most of his writing life far removed from the Northeast, though Southern California, where Steele lived for several years, also plays a prominent role in his writing.

Steele left Vermont to study at Stanford University, earning his B.A. in 1970. It was at Stanford that Steele came under the influence of Yvor Winters, who reinforced his formalist inclinations. Returning to New England for graduate work at Brandeis University, Steele worked with another important Formalist scholar, J. V. Cunningham. Cunningham’s concision and love for the epigram show a real influence on Steele’s development, though Steele’s dissertation at Brandeis was on the history and conventions of detective fiction. He was awarded his M.A. (1972) and Ph.D. (1977) from Brandeis. He offered to take over Counter/Measures, a magazine published by X. J. Kennedy and Dorothy Kennedy, which was one of the few periodicals in the country publishing formal verse at the time and was going out of business. Kennedy urged Steele to instead concentrate on his own work.

While working on his dissertation, Steele crossed the country yet again, returning to Stanford as Jones Lecturer in Poetry from 1975 to 1977. Upon completion of his Ph.D., he...

(The entire section is 579 words.)