S.M. Steele PhD (Exon), Master of Library & Information Science, BMus (voice), (Hon.) Senior Research Fellow University of Exeter
Welcome, newcomers to my new website, and welcome back to the 350,000+ faithful readers of my retired warpoet.ca website. A lot has happened in the decade since I began my diary from the road to war in Afghanistan with the Canadian Infantry, Canada’s first poet to serve as an official war artist. One of the major outcomes of this work was a war requiem, with composer Jeff Ryan, Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation, commissioned by the Calgary Philharmonic in 2012, and last performed by the Vancouver Symphony, the Calgary Philharmonic again, and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 2017 at Roy Thompson Hall.
Where do I start? I survived, I thrived. Within months of returning from the war work I was awarded a fully-funded PhD from the University of Exeter, UK, where I spent the next several years. There, I was supervised by Professor Tim Kendall, a world expert on war literature and poetry (Poetry of the First World War, Oxford University Press), and Dr. Joe Crawford, a leading expert on Gothic literature and a consummate scholar, one able to recite entire epics off-the-cuff! I passed my viva in 2016 and graduated with my PhD (and here it is!) in 2017. Immediately after graduating I won another major award, a Canada Council 150 New Chapter Award, to write a new opera on Louis Riel, with composer Neil Weisensel. The opera, Li Keur: Riel’s Heart of the North, is written in three Indigenous languages (Cree-Michif, French-Michif, and Saulteaux, with translators), French and English.
Throughout the past decade I continued my private practice as a developmental and substantive editor (Middle Eastern specialty), and as a supplier of advanced intelligence (I am a researcher with a Master of Library and Information Science). This site thus functions as a one-stop site for all of my professional work as I do not disaggregate any of my work. My practice is based on clear, clean, and memorable communications, no matter what the field of endeavour. George Orwell’s essay, ‘Politics and the English Language’, has long been an influence on my writing.
One of the best aspects of studying in the UK, being associated with an organization based in Oxford, and as a member of the innovative 1914FACES2014 research team, was my exposure to some of the most advanced researchers and research in the world. A lecture that stands out in my mind was one by the archaeo-metallurgist Dr. Gillian Juleff of the University of Exeter. Dr. Juleff has done extensive research on early steel smelting techniques, notably the monsoon furnaces of Sri Lanka. Dr. Juleff’s team has written convincingly of early steel production, notably a famed Damascus steel, forged in the hills of India and a prize trade good for centuries, such was its strength. The wallpaper of this website is a photograph of a Damascus steel knife I gave my Best Beloved.
As the ancients forged Damascus steel, with patience and skill, I am a forger of ideas and images. My goal as an editor, writer, communicator, and teacher is to help others develop their ideas; steel is flexible, yet fiercely strong. My hope too, as an artist, is that my own work forged through solid research, and many trials, will transform into something profound. Where glass is fragile and shatters, that is, often too precious to survive, ideas etched in steel(e), whether words or images or sound, shall last.