Steven Price

Presented to the Calgary Women’s Literary Club by Janet Samber on 19/04/2022

Steven Price is an award winning poet, novelist, and professor of poetry and fiction at the University of Victoria, whose mastery of the English language, vivid descriptive powers, and extensive use of metaphor transport the reader into the world he creates. As Price states, all his works, whether prose or poetry, are on some level about memory. This becomes abundantly clear as the reader accompanies Price through his explorations, in both poetic and fictional form , of the lives of such historic figures as Houdini, the Prince of Lampedusa, and William Pinkerton.

His work includes 2 books of poetry. The Anatomy of Keys (2007) is a biography of Harry Houdini, tracing the life of the child Erich Weiss from his arrival in America as an immigrant to his triumphs as the magician Harry Houdini to his untimely death. Rich in metaphor, this volume is a meditation on life, its reality, and its artifice. His  second book of poetry, Omens in the Year of the Ox (2012) , uses varied poetic forms and subjects ranging from the mythological to the current day to explore the heights and depths of the human reaction to experiences encountered .

The 3 novels are also rich in descriptive language. Into That Darkness (2011) portrays the laying waste of Victoria as the result of a cataclysmic earthquake. Elderly Arthur Lear and the boy Mason whom he rescues struggle to survive and find Mason’s mother in the chaos of the destroyed city. The huge complex volume, By Gaslight with its main character, William Pinkerton, transports the reader back and forth through time and through incidents in the lives of its many characters. Many misdirections in the complexity of plot strands lead to the solution of problems by the device of flashbacks in this challenging historical epic. Lampedusa ( 2019 ) is a sensitive recreation of the last years  of Guiseppe Tomasi the last Prince of Lampedusa as he writes his masterful novel, The Leopard. The lyrical prose of this book is a tribute to the life and work of Tomasi as it celebrates the creative spirit of man, giving an intimate glimpse into his last years.

Price has said that all his writing is, at some level, about memory and the way time passes. In both his poetry and his novels, Price uses classical allusions, varied perspectives and polished metaphor and alliteration to sensitively  bring alive his subjects, their lives, times and surroundings .