War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

quite a year for Jeff Ryan and my Requiem! Five performances, 250 performers on stage each time!

This past weekend Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation was performed in two cities at the same time! WHEN is it going to be performed at our NATION’S CAPITAL!!!????

‘A great many occasional pieces carry with them some limitations that prevent performances outside the specific occasion for which they were composed. No so here. In Steele’s fine poetry, mixing words of the Latin Mass with powerful imagistic writing addressing the pathos of war, and in Ryan’s music, this oratorio is certainly one of the most important extended Canadian choral works from this century.’

– Kenneth Delong, Calgary Herald Nov. 13, 2017

‘this new work, Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation, by composer Jeffrey Ryan and poet Suzanne Steele is compelling, powerful stuff. Those lucky audience members who get experience it on Remembrance Day itself, should feel especially moved. […] Steele, who went [on the road to war to Afghanistan] with the Canadian Forces in 2008 for two years as an official war artist, returned with verses detailing the drudgery and suffering of the soldiers, and the mixed emotions faced on their return home — either dead or alive. She and Ryan interwove her words with the Latin text of the traditional Requiem Mass to create a many-layered picture of chaos, confusion, hope, relief, and despair. The best shorthand description I can think of is that this work is a direct descendant of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, which is now 55 years old.

– John Terrauds, Ludwig Van Toronto, (also Toronto Star) November 10, 2017

— smsteele


Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation with the Calgary Philharmonic and Toronto Symphonies !!!!!!!!

Jeff Ryan and my war requiem, Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation will be performed THIS November 11 weekend simultaneously in Calgary and Toronto!

This work, conceived of, and written by me, and based on my experience embedded with an infantry battalion (1PPCLI) on their road to war, was put to music with great sensitivity by composer Jeff Ryan. The war requiem premiered in 2012 in Calgary and will be heard five times this year, a gratifying achievement for both of us. Further, as with the premiere in 2012, an amazing cast has been drawn together by both symphony orchestras. Click on the links above to see who’s who in the zoo!

I’ll be attending the Toronto performance, both nights, and would like to say to any mil. pers., next-of-kin, or family members who live in the area and who would like to attend as well, please contact me asap and I will try my best to get comps!

Further, I’ll be the guest artist at the Royal Canadian Military Institute in Toronto on November 8th, 2017 for an evening of war poetry. Participants are invited and encouraged to bring their ‘favourite’ (if that is the word) war poem to read or recite. The event begins at 7 pm. Message me if interested (I don’t have many details otherwise!).

Other big news is that Winnipeg composer Neil Weisensel and I have been awarded a major Canada Council New Chapter Award to write a new opera on Louis Riel, Riel: Heart of the North. This work will premiere in 2019 with the Winnipeg and Regina Symphonies, and is in partnership with numerous organisations, including the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. This summer I immersed myself in Montana, the Dakotas, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba in order to begin to understand the mid-1800s. Photographs and a record of the composer and my progress as we write this major work will be available through our website.

— smsteele


In Arms to reappear at the Alberta Legislature this autumn!!

A Legion-style open house celebrates the opening of the Borealis Gallery’s newest exhibit. Drop in for film screenings, poetry readings, and the opportunity to meet members from today’s Royal Canadian Legion.
Royal Canadian Legion: The History of the Canadian Legion
The story and evolution of the Legion, a documentary film by Valour Canada
6:00 pm – 6:30 pm; Pehonan Theatre
In Arms
Notable Edmonton performers and poets read original works written by themselves, members of the armed forces and families
6:30 pm – 7:00 pm; Federal Building lobby
Forgotten Warriors
The experiences of Canada’s Indigenous veterans, an NFB documentary film
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm; Pehonan Theatre
October 19, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Free to attend; no reservations required

The Alberta Legislature is mounting an exhibit called “Legion Halls” this autumn and some of the “In Arms” project will see the light of day one again. In the good hands of actor Joel Crichton, there will be a poetry reading from the chapbook we produced back in 2010 as part of the Edmonton Poetry Festival legacy.
The project, led by poet laureate Alice Major was a mentoring project that saw military members and military families matched with a mentor poet (Alice, Michael Gravel, and myself) who helped develop their work. The result was an astonishing collection of poetry that was produced and then fashioned into a dramatic reading (with professional actor Joel Crichton, Michael, and me, a live band, and directed by Kevin Kerr). It was one of the most astonishing audiences ever – half military/half arts community with the Lt. Gov. and other dignitaries in the house.

I remember standing up on stage doing my part and hearing laughter and weeping coming from the darkened audience as we read some truly tough material, punctuated with the gloriously funny and poignant KAF haikus by a young corporal named Graig Gallant. Graig used to send me haikus from KAF during his tour of duty in Afghanistan – often to cheer me up during a really grim time in my life. He always made me laugh as they described the relatively mundane (and I use that qualifier advisedly because there’s nothing mundane about weekly rocket attacks) life of a clerk inside the wire.

We received a standing O and had a chance to meet some of our poets that night (we’d mentored online), as well as next-of-kin, families and girlfriends. One poet, a mil. pers with severe PTSD, had flown all the way from another province far away to attend. He told me that night that partly because of the project and through his writing, he was dreaming in colour again.

So to hear that there will be another reading is spectacular. Part of me wishes I could be there, but most of me knows I better leave a lot of that alone. But in any case I am so proud of our poets and so proud of Alice, Michael, and Joel and our work. This work stands the test of time. Note that the ranks of the mil. pers. listed below are no longer relevant as some have retired or been promoted!

Here is a list of poems and the authors whose work will be performed at the Alberta Legislature, date TBA:

Waiting by the phone – Murray Lewis
Yes, dear! – Warrant Officer Terry Hamel
One soldier, one man, one wife, one woman – Melanie Rustenburg
Meat grinder – Warrant Officer Terry Hamel
Night before the first big op. (Dand District/2009) [Excerpt] – SMSteele
Our Boys – Captain Wayne Brockington
I am the medic – Master Corporal Leah Boyd
The soldier’s photo – Mike Gravel
Father and Son – Murray Lewis
A young soldier’s burdens – Donna Yakibuchuk
Support our troops – Mike Gravel
Galahad soldier – Warrant Officer Terry Hamel
The end approaches – Corporal Graig Gallant
Cottonwoods at Lone Hand Ranch – DBJ Snyder
Elegy for an infantryman – SMSteele
Go and see Vancouver – Warrant Officer Quenten Mullin
The change of command parade – K. Grant
The Things We Share – Major Mark Popov

— smsteele


Dr. S.M. Steele's curriculum vitae (with publications and media)

Dr. Suzanne M. Steele

Academic Qualifications
• Ph.D. in English literary criticism, interdisciplinary First World War and interwar cultural studies, Title: The Artist’s Dilemma: Truth, Process, and Form in the Great War Narratives of Robert Graves, Mary Borden, and David Jones, University of Exeter, UK
• M.Phil. English, Title: Mary Borden and the Forbidden Zone of War, University of Exeter, UK
• Master of Library and Information Science, Archive Studies, University of Western Ontario, London, Ont., Canada
• B Mus. (voice), University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Professional Memberships
• Native American and Indigenous Studies Association
• Globalising and Localising the Great War: an interdisciplinary network of TORCH | The
Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities, Oxford, UK/International

Teaching Qualifications
• 2017 Independent School Teacher’s Certificate, British Columbia (pending)
• 2014 Learning and Teaching in Higher Level Education (LTHE), Level 2 Certificate, University of Exeter, UK

Awards and Grants
• 2017-19 librettist and project co-manager, with composer Neil Weisensel, Canada Council New Chapter Award for Riel: Heart of the North with Winnipeg and Regina Symphonies in partnership with the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, Louis Riel Institute (Manitoba Metis Federation),
• 2015 Nominated for Guild Teaching Award, Best Use of Technology, University of Exeter, UK
• 2014 Exeter Annual Award. Project manager (personnel manager, budget etc.), designer of the digital archive, media lead, workshop trainer, event planner and coordinator. The Long Good-bye: a conversation across a century. An international outreach project and a Great War centenary installation with eXegesis Poetry Collective. Multi-media. Exeter, UK
• 2012 Libretti commission. Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation, Calgary Philharmonic and Chorus and One Yellow Rabbit Theatre/High Performance Rodeo, Calgary, AB
• 2012 Canada Council Professional Artist Grant
• 2012 (three awards) April/May/November Leighton Artist Colony, Banff Centre/Calgary Philharmonic, Banff, AB
• 2011 University of Exeter International PhD Studentship Award, fully-funded doctorate ($165,000)
• 2010 Department of National Defence Grant: National War Museum of Canada
• 2010 BC Arts Council Grant
• 2010 Canada Council Artist’s Development Grant
• 2010 Canada Council Travel Grant
• 2010 Edmonton Poetry Festival Grant: In Arms Poetry Mentoring Project
• 2009 Western Communities Arts Grant. Victoria, BC
• 2009 Leighton Artist Colony Grant, Banff, AB.
• 2008-10 Canadian Forces Artist Program Grant (Canada and Afghanistan)
• 2005 Short-list, Robert Louis Stevenson Award for Literature. National Library of Scotland, Scottish Arts Council. The Year. Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.
• 2005 Short-list: Royal Literary Fund Mentorship Program. London, UK.
• 2004 Diploma for Excellence, Scottish International Poetry Competition. Irvine, Scotland, UK.
• 1995 Third Prize. Science Writing, ‘Astronomy and the Internet.’ Griffiths Observatory. Los Angeles, CA, USA.

Professional Roles
• 2011- present Editor, researcher, instructor, analyst (UK/Canada)
• 2015 Featured Instructor, Tech Trumps Insight Video. ‘Using FaceBook as a Teaching Tool’, Education Quality and Enhancement, University of Exeter, UK https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VdRQ45yzj4
• 2013-2015 Named Collaborator, 1914FACES2014, a European Union funded INTERREG IV UK/France collaborative research project. Duties included: representing the university and the British team in the UK and France; chairing workshop panels; workshop and conference presentations facilitating at major conferences; assisting the project curator in several exhibitions; creating a video installation, Blickfelder/Champs de Visions/Field of Visions for UK and France exhibitions, literary advisor, author, literary coordinator, host for the 2015 Royal Albert Memorial Museum exhibition Faces of Conflict. The project was based at the University of Exeter, UK and the Faire Faces Institute and University of Picardy, Amiens, France. http://blogs.exeter.ac.uk/1914faces2014/category/exhibitions/
• 2015 Introduction to Creative Writing (1st year courses). Dept. of English, University of Exeter, UK.
• 2012-14 Widening Participation Instructor, Creative Writing. University of Exeter, UK
• 2013 British Poetry of the First World War (3rd year course) with Professor Tim Kendall, Dept. of English, University of Exeter, UK.
• 2013 Introduction to Film, shadow/lecturer: ‘The Score of Breakfast At Tiffany’s as Co-Star.’ University of Exeter, UK.
• 2013 Lecture, ‘The Art of Witness’, 3rd year module Critical Theory, University of Exeter, UK
• 2013 Lecture, ‘The Poetic Voice in War’, 1st year module ‘The Poem’, University of Exeter
• 2012-16 Tutor, qualitative and bibliographic, advanced research instruction, substantive editing (Master and PhD level – Middle East specialty)
• 2012 Digital Technologies for Researchers, ‘Using Digital Technologies in the Field
CASCADE Project, instructional video, University of Exeter, UK
http://as.exeter.ac.uk/cascade/digital-scholars/researcher-resources/digitaltechnologiesforresearchers/
• 2010 Instructor, military liaison. The position entailed working closely with veterans and professional poets, serving military personnel, and family members. In Arms: Wage War With Words, a poetry mentoring project (poet laureate Alice Major, lead), performance at the Royal Alberta Museum, publication (In Arms), Edmonton Poetry Festival, Edmonton, AB
• 2000-03 Teaching Métis history and culture to community groups and school groups for the Greater Victoria Métis Association
• 1992-95 Instructor, GratefulMed (National Library of Medicine, Bethesda Maryland), online bibliographic skills to physicians and specialists, University of British Columbia Continuing Education and North American Radiologist Society Conference, Chicago Il, USA

Academic Publications
• 2017 ‘‘The Tin Noses Shop’ Michael Longley’s Great War Poetry: the Poet’s Imperative’. Chapter. Bernard Devauchelle, David Houston Jones, Philippe Nivet (eds.), 1914FACES2014
• 2016 ‘Frederick Coates, the ‘Facial Architect’ co-author, Dr. Marjorie Gerhardt, University of Reading, UK. Journal of War and Culture Studies, special issue, Assessing the Legacy of the Gueules Cassées: from Surgery to Art, ed. David Houston Jones and Marjorie Gehrhardt.
• 2013 Poetry of the First World War: an Anthology, Ed. Tim Kendall. Editorial commentary (acknowledged). Oxford: OUP.

Creative Projects and Publications
• 2019 Riel: Heart of the North, dramatic musical with composer Neil Weisensel, Regina and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestras, National Museum for Human Rights.
• 2018 ‘The Sacred Heart of Sara Riel’. The Prud’homme Library Project. A Canada Council New Chapter Project curated by Dr. H. Jessup and Dr. C. Battershill. (pub. Date 2019).
• 2012, 2017 Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (Orpheum Theatre, Calgary Philharmonic and Toronto Symphony.
• 2015 Champs de Visions/Field of Visions/Blickfelder, Video/sound installation. L’Historial de la Grande Guerre, Peronne, France. 22 June – 11 November 2015, and The Mary Harris Chapel, University of Exeter, UK. March 2015.
• 2014-15 The Wittgenstein Vector. Installation and publication. Poetry. eXegesis Poetry Collective. Sisters of Invention, San Francisco Book Centre, San Francisco, CA; Worlds in Collision: Visual Art and Wittgenstein’s Philosophy, Exeter, UK, and The Wittgenstein Vector Wall, Exeter, UK.
• 2014 The Road To War With The Patricias. Video/sound installation for the Princess Patricias Canadian Light Infantry Centenary, Calgary, AB, and Edmonton, Alberta; StAnza International Poetry Festival, St. Andrews, Scotland; Exeter, UK, 2014.
• 2013 Decorations by J. Robles. Audio recording/broadcast with J. Robles, Mike Rose-Steel. Broadcast on KUFS in Exile, San Francisco, CA.
• 2013 51 Shades of Black and Blue. Poetry chapbook, live cabaret. eXegesis Press: Exeter, UK.
• 2012 Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation. Libretti. Maremagnum Publishing: Victoria, BC.
• 2012 ‘9 liner.’ Poetry. Desperately Seeking Susans, Fernie, BC: Oolichan Books.
• 2012 ‘Embed.’ Essay Chapter – 21 pages. Embedded on the Homefront ed. Joan Dixon and Barbara Howard. Calgary, AB: Heritage House Press.
• 2012 Wall of Miracles, international poetry installation. Curated and collaborated with eXegesis: Dr. J. Robles and Mike Rose-Steel. University of Exeter, UK.
• 2011 ‘Suffield Tree’, ‘Suffield Diary.’ Poetry commission. ACS Annual [military training company], Calgary, AB: ACS publishing.
• 2011 ‘Who Who Are You?’ Prose poetry. On Site Review 25 (On Identity). Calgary, AB.
• 2010 ‘Night Before the First Big Op (Panjawaii/2009)’, ‘9 liner’ and Elegy for an Infantryman.’ Poetry. In Arms: Wage War With Words. ed. Alice Major. Edmonton, AB: Edmonton Poetry Festival Society Publication.
• 2010 ‘Elegy for an Infantryman’ and ‘To Young Infantrymen Training for Afghanistan.’ Poetry video. Remembrance Day Video for Nova Scotia Veterans. Earle Thompson, videographer. Victoria, B.C.
• 2009 ‘Snow’. Winter. Leaf Press Collaborative Poem. Lantzville, BC: Leaf Press.
• 2009 ‘So Beautiful’, ‘For You at the Shura.’ Poetry. On Site Review 22 (On War), Calgary, AB.
• 2009 ‘So Beautiful’, ‘For You at the Shura’, ’24 hrs.’ Poetry. Journal of Military and Strategic Studies, v.12/1. University of Calgary Press: Calgary, AB.
• 2009 Excerpts from May Day: War Letters to a Lover in Afghanistan: ‘Prologue: Recce’; ‘Wednesday, May 14: Poppy Harvest’; ‘Thursday, May 15: MNVGs’; ‘Friday, May 16: Matériel’, and ‘Sunday, May 18: Ramp Ceremony’. Poetry. Dream Catcher, v. 33. Lincoln, U.K.
• 2009 ‘August Widow’, ‘24 hrs leave’, ‘To Young Infantrymen Training for Afghanistan’, Excerpts from May Day: ‘Friday, May 2: Recce’; ‘Saturday, May 3: Flamenca txts M’, ‘Tuesday; May 13: Mosquito’; ‘Wednesday, May 14: Poppy Harvest’; Thursday, May 15: MNVGs’; ‘Saturday, June 12: Acanthus Leaves’ and ‘Night Watch in the Gun Turret with Sgt. B’/ ‘La Garde de Nuit Dans Latourelle de Mitailleuse avec St. B’, (translation M. Nattras). Poetry. CV2 The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical Writing, v. 31/3, Winnipeg, MB.
• 2009 ‘Pilgrimage.’ Poetry. Brownsbank Anthology, Eds. Tom Bryan, Linda Cracknell, and Andrew MacCallum. Biggars Museum Trust, South Lankashire Council, Robertson Trust and Glasgow University, Biggar, U.K.
• 2009 ‘Letter From Afghanistan.’ Prose. The Poetry Reader, Scottish Poetry Library, Issue 5, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.
• 2009 ‘So Beautiful.’ Poetry. The Globe and Mail, Nov.28, 2009. Toronto, Ont., Canada.
• 2008 Excerpt from ‘Elegy for an Infantryman.’ Poetry. The Maple Leaf, v.11/no. 30, Ottawa, Ont., Canada.
• 2008 ‘August Widow.’ Poetry. Montreal Gazette, Toronto Star, Windsor Star, Regina Post, Calgary Herald, Vancouver Sun, Halifax Chronicle Herald, Victoria Times-Colonist, Ottawa Citizen, Regina Leader Post, Edmonton Journal, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Canada. Nov. 2008 issues.
• 2008 ‘August Widow.’ Poetry. The Outlook. CFB Esquimalt publication, Victoria, BC.
• 2008 ‘Rawan Tander’, ‘Wednesday, May 14: Poppy Harvest’ and ‘Acanthus Leaves.’ Poetry. The Tyee, and Monday Magazine. November 2008. Victoria, BC.
• 2008 ‘To the Firefighters of Kabul.’ Poetry commissioned/published in honour of the Afghan Ambassador to Canada, Omar Samad’s visit, and the visiting fire-fighters from Kabul, Afghanistan. Langford Firefighters,Victoria, BC.
• 2008 ‘Begin The Year’, from The Year. Poetry. Leaf Press Poem of the Month, 2008
• 2007 ‘Snowshoeing.’ Poetry. The Society (quarterly). St. Peter’s College, SK.
• 2007 ‘Life and Death in the Hebrides.’ Prose. The Toronto Star, 2007
• 2007 ‘Sonicbios.’ Poetry. LifeIcon. TC Helicon corporate commission. Victoria, BC.
• 1998 ‘Auguri Ella: ‘This is Your First Spring’, ‘Spring’, ‘In the Orchard’, ‘I Remember Thinking in Fall’, ‘They Split Me’, ‘I Have Seen That Other Country’, ‘Trisomy’, ‘I Saw Her Map’, ‘This Moment’, ‘This Razor’, ‘Late August Morning’, ‘In the Hot August Garden’ and ‘This is Your Year.’ Poetry. Threshold six women: six poets, ed. Rona Murray. Victoria, BC: SonoNis Press.

Selected Conference Papers and Academic Presentations
• 2017 ‘The Ethics and Aesthetics of the Afghan War Script’. Panel on war at the ACUTE Conference, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ont.
• 2015 ‘The Tin Noses Shop’: Michael Longley, fils de soldat, et poéte de la Grande Guerre.’ Paper in French. 1914FACES2014 workshop. Faire Face Institute, Amiens, France.
• 2015 ‘Architecture and Aftermath in Ford Madox Ford’s Parades End.’ Paper. Aftermath Conference. Kings College London. London, UK. April 2015.
• 2015 The Wittgenstein Vector. Reading and installation. Wor(l)ds In Collision. University of Exeter, UK.
• 2015 The Wittgenstein Vector. British Wittgenstein Conference. Exeter, UK. 14 June 2015,
• 2015 ‘‘The Tin Noses Shop’: Michael Longley and the Refacing of the Poetic War.’ Paper. 1914FACES2014 Conference. March 2015.
• 2014 ‘Unidentified: Mary Borden and The Forbidden Zone.’ Paper. Visual Testimony and the Archive: Visual Testimony and the Archive Conference; 1914FACES2015. September. Exeter, UK.
• 2014 ‘Unidentified: Mary Borden and The Forbidden Zone.’ Paper. British Poetry of the First World War Conference, Wadham College, Oxford, UK. September.
• 2014 ‘The Wittgenstein Vector, and Wittgenstein’s influence on my artistic practice.’ Opening speaker (with Mike Rose-Steel), video, reading. 21st Century Theories of Literature: Fiction, Value, and Essence. Centre for Research, in Philosophy, Literature, and the Arts. Warwick University, March.
• 2009 Presentation of war photography, lecture ‘Embed’, and poetry reading Centre for Military and Strategic Studies, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. September.

Readings and Guest Speaker Engagements (non-academic)
• 2016 ‘War Stories.’ Guest of Honour Key Note Speech: Royal Westminster Regiment Passchendaele Dinner, New Westminster, BC.
• 2014 StAnza: International Poetry Festival. Featured poet, installation artist (Road to War), and panellist on war poetry with David Constantine. St. Andrews, Scotland. March 2014.
• 2014 ‘Bearing Witness to Those Who Bear Witness: the Woman War Artist of 1919.’ Opening Lecture for the Centenary of the Great War Speakers Program. Royal Military Society Toronto. June 2014.
• 2013 ‘The Artist as Witness.’ Lecture. Canadian Women’s Club, Canadian High Commission, London, UK. November 2013.
• 2013 The Exeter Contemporary Arts Hub opening. Reading (with eXegesis) for the Lord Mayor of Exeter. June 17, 2013.
• 2013 51 Shades of Black and Blue with eXegesis. A poetry cabaret reading. Exeter. UK. February 13, 2013.
• 2012 Speaking of War & Peace Symposium. Speaker. Calgary, AB. Oct. 29, 2012.
• 2012 ‘Requiem,’ and ‘On the Art of Witness: a poet’s road to war.’ Reading and speaking engagement for the Consul General and invited guests. Daniel Pearle Day. United States Consulate, Calgary, AB. Oct. 29, 2012.
• 2012 Edward Thomas Fellowship Study Day. Reading. Oxford, UK. June 2012.
• 2012 ‘On Writing the Libretti for Afghanistan Requiem for a Generation.’ Speaker (with soprano soloist). Leighton Artist Colony. Banff, AB. May 2012.
• 2012 ‘Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation.’ Speaker (with actors, soloists, pianist, and composer Jeffrey Ryan), presentation/preview of the war requiem. High Performance Rodeo. Christ the Redeemer Cathedral. Calgary, AB. January 2012.
• 2011 ‘Ethics and the Art of Witness.’ Speaking engagement. Banff Centre. Banff, AB, March 2011.
• 2010 A Brush With War: War Artists from Korea to Afghanistan. Presentation of my war photography, lecture, and reading. National War Museum, Ottawa, Ont. Dec. 2010.
• 2010 In Arms: Wage War With Words. Dramatic reading from the In Arms poetry project. Produced by the Edmonton Poetry Festival, directed by Kevin Kerr, with live music by Marc Beaudin, photographic images by Cpl. Shawn Grove, and featuring Joel Crichton, Michael Gravel and Suzanne Steele. Royal Alberta Museum Theatre. Edmonton, AB Nov. 10 2010.
• 2010 May Day Project: Letters to a Lover in Afghanistan. Play. Narrator. With Michael Armstrong, Alexandre Plouffe, Beth Volder (actors), flamenco dancers, flamenco guitarist Gareth Owen. Victoria, BC. May 2011.
• 2010 Tree Reading Series. Featured poet. Ottawa, Ont. May 2010.
• 2009 ‘War Artist.’ Reading, presentation of photography, with Cpl. Shawn Grove, Alpha Company war artist, 1st Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. Victoria School for the Performing Arts. Edmonton, AB. September, 2009.
• 2008 Edmonton Poetry Festival, headliner poet, Edmonton, AB May 2008.
• Edinburgh Fringe Festival, reading, Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh, August 2004.
• 2004 Finalists, Scottish International Open Poetry Competition. Reading, Irvine, Ayrshire, U.K.

Professional Development
• 2013 Leadership Training: Take To The Trees. University of Exeter, UK.
• 2012 Member, Humanities and Social Sciences Strategy Launch. University of Exeter, UK.
• 2012 Data Visualization and Mapping Workshop, Bridging the Gaps. University of Exeter, UK.
• 2012-14 Critical Theory Group. University of Exeter, UK.
• 2011-12 Bridging the Gaps Wilderness Project, Exeter Science Exchange, University of Exeter, UK.
• 2008 St. Peters Artist Colony, Muenster, SK.
• 2006 Banff Writers Studio with Governor General winner Don McKay. Banff Centre, Banff, AB.
• 2003-05 Scottish School of Poets. Scottish National Poetry Library, Edinburgh, UK.

Other Employment/New Projects
• 2016-19 Riel: Heart of the North, librettist, manager, and workshop provider for the dramatic musical, with composer Neil Weisensel. Regina and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestras, National Museum for Human Rights.
• 2011-16 Researcher/analyst, editor (Middle East specialty), instructor, artist, film industry. UK and Canada.
• 2010-12 Commission with composer Jeffrey Ryan. Calgary Philharmonic and Chorus and One Yellow Rabbit: Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation. Premiered to audience of 1700, recorded, broadcast nationally and internationally in Canada, the United Kingdom (BBC World Service), and performed in Chicago, IL, USA. Future performances in Toronto, Ont., Vancouver, BC, and Calgary, AB in 2017.
• 1991-2010 Informational analyst and researcher, advanced technologies and cultural industries. Clients include: Dominion Astrophysical Observatory; National Minister of Health; The World Bank; B.C. Ministry of Education; NGL Consulting (Ottawa); Intelicon Consulting (Vancouver); IVL technologies (Victoria); TC Electronics (International); TC Helicon; West Mont Montessori and many more.
• 2008-10 Official Canadian War Artist. Canadian Forces Artist Program. Delta Company, 1st Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, 22ieme Royale Régiment, Army, Navy, and Air Force, Task-Force 3-09 (Afghanistan). CFB Shilo, CFB Wainwright, CFB Suffield, CFB Edmonton, Canada and Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. At CFB Wainwright I was embedded with rifle companies and Afghan nationals in mock Afghan villages. In Afghanistan I spent time alongside NATO troops of all nations, including American, British, French, German, and Australian.
• 1989-91 Medical information service provider. Northern Outreach, University of Western Ontario, London, Ont.

Selected Media Interviews
• 2015 CBC Television. The National, with Terry Reith. Interview. Water levels on the North Saskatchewan River. This was from the 2200 km river research journey across the continent made by S.M. Steele and J. Hilberry. August, 2015.
• 2015 CBC Radio AM Edmonton, with Mark Connolly, CBC Radio Saskatchewan. Feature Interviews. August, 2015.
• 2015 Storm Radio, CJAR 102.9, The Pas. Feature interview. August 2015.
• 2014 BBC Radio Devon. Interview on The Long Good-bye. August.
• 2014 Sky television. Interview on The Long Good-bye. August.
• 2012 The Charles Adler New Year’s Special, feature television interview on working with the military as an artist, broadcast nationwide on the Sun News Network, Dec. 31, 2012.
• 2012 BBC World Service, World Update, feature interview on Afghanistan, Requiem for Generation, November 12, 2012.
• 2012 CBC National Radio, National Public Radio (USA) As It Happens, feature interview on writing the war requiem. November 9, 2012.
• 2011 War Artists, CBC Television, The National, feature interview with Deana Sumanac on being a war artist. Canada, July 14, 2011.
• 2010 CBC Radio Active with Peter Brown, feature interview and reading of ‘9-liner’, Edmonton, AB, June 2010.
• 2010 1290 CJBK Radio, London in the Afternoon with Alan Coombs, feature radio interview on war work. London, Ont. May 2010.
• 2010 CBC Radio All Points West with Jo-Anne Roberts, feature interview and reading of ‘On the Loss of Lt. Andrew Nuttall’, Victoria, BC January 10, 2010
• 2009 BBC Radio World Service, World Update, feature interview with Dan Damon, live broadcast interview and reading of ‘This Country’, from Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan. Nov. 13th, 2009.
• 2009 CBC National Radio, The Story from Here, feature interview and reading of ‘Elegy for an Infantryman’. Nov. 11th, 2009.
• 2009 CBC Radio Sound XChanges, with Kelly Jo Burke, reading ‘For Justin Boyles’ and interview, Saskatchewan, Nov. 9, 2009
• 2009 CBC Radio, Sound XChanges, feature interview with Bonnie Austring-Winter, reading ‘Elegy for an Infantryman’ and interview, Saskatchewan, August, 2009
• 2008 CBC National Radio, The Current with Anna Maria Trimonte, interview on war artist work, Toronto, Ont. October 30, 2008.
• 2008 BBC World Service, Newshour with Claire Balderson, interview on being a war artist, London, U.K., October 24, 2008.
• 2007 CBC Radio, All Points West, Interview on walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, with Jo-anne Robertson.

Poetry adopted into curricula
• 2013-17 ‘So Beautiful.’ Grade 12 Provincial Exam, and International English Literature exams administered through the Alberta Ministry of Education (150,000 copies worldwide).
• 2009-10 ‘Elegy for an Infantryman.’ Grade 12 English Literature Exam. Open School. British Columbia, Ministry of Education, BC.
• 2010 ‘For You at the Shura.’ Kate McLoughlin’s Master Level English Literature, Modern/Post-Modern War Writing. University of Glasgow.
• 2009 ‘So Beautiful’ and ‘Elegy for an Infantryman.’ Grade 12 English Literature, New Horizon Program. Winnipeg, MB.

Press (selected)
• 2012 ‘Requiem for a Generation: Poet wrote an ode for people affected by the Afghanistan war’, feature interview, The National Post November 4, 2012
• 2012 Calgary Herald, feature Interview, November 2012.
• 2012 ‘Requiem for a generation: Suzanne Steele’s orchestral manoeuvres Globe and Mail, feature Interview, November 9 2012.
• 2012 ‘War poems melded with music’, feature interview, Calgary Herald, March 1, 2012.
• 2012 ‘Concertgoers Get Sneak Preview of War Requiem’, feature interview, Calgary Herald January 24, 2012.
• 2010 ‘Guns, Money, Iambic Pentameter’, feature article, MacLean’s Magazine, July 5, 2010 .
• 2010 ‘Embedded poet’ Saw War First-hand in Afghanistan,’ feature interview with Ryan Cormier, Edmonton Journal, June 28, 2010.
• 2010 ‘A War of Words’, feature interview, Ian Elliot, Kingston Whig Standard, May 5, 2010.
• 2009 ‘Canada’s First War Poet Armed with a Pen’, feature interview, Patrick White, Globe and Mail, November 27, 2009.
• 2009 ‘A War Poet’s Year’, feature interview, Western Sentinel, v.12/16, Edmonton, AB.
• 2009 ‘An Interview with smsteele [sic]’ with editor Clarisse Foster, CV2 The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical Writing, v. 31/3, Winnipeg, MB.
• 2008 ‘Dust to Verse,’ Jim Gibson, Victoria Times Colonist, Halifax Herald, Montreal Gazette, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Windsor Star etc. November 2008
• 2008-12 Several articles in military newspapers, The Maple Leaf, The Outlook, literary journals such as the Quill and Quire.

Websites/Blogs (ongoing and complete)
• War Poet: http://www.warpoet.ca/ warpoet.ca is one of S.M. Steele’s Canadian Forces Artist Program projects. Through text, audio, images, video and contributions by military personnel (Canadian, U.K., U.S.), warpoet.ca examines and records the contemporary military war experience from the home front and in the theatre of war (200,000 + readership).

• Singing with the Boys: http://smsteele.wordpress.com/ Singing With The Boys refers to the Benedictine monks with whom I sang the Offices while at the St. Peter’s artists’ colony at St. Peter’s Abbey, Meunster, SK. It is a free writing space that examines the writing life.

• Trek to Santiago de Compostela (for NICU Babies): http://trek4babies.wordpress.com Trek to Santiago de Compostela was written in 2007 while I walked the Camino (850 kms across Northern Spain) with my family. The trek was thanksgiving for the survival of my daughter in 1996, born critically ill ten years earlier. I wrote the blog as a record of our experience and also to encourage donors to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (Victoria General Hospital, Victoria), the unit that saved our daughter’s life at birth following massive thoracic surgery. We raised $26,000 and purchased two positive-flow ventilators for sick new-borns.

— smsteele


Wainwright

My condolences to Sgt. Robert J. Dynerowicz of the Royal Canadian Dragoons who died on Ex at Wainwright today. Three others were injured. Anyone who has been to Wainwright, Suffield, Shilo, or any other training locales will know that these are not army “games”, these are potentially deadly exercises. I do not know the details of St. Dynerowicz’s death other than I believe it was vehicular, but what kind of vehicle and the circumstances remain to be revealed.
I remember WWx and seeing the wooden cross and the photo of the young soldier killed when the LAV rolled. I have been in the gunner’s turret and inside the LAV belly on live fire. War, preparing for war, is a dangerous business. But that cannot soothe the broken hearts tonight. Nor any night. I’m so sorry for this man’s family and his comrades and command.

— smsteele


Centenary Vimy

In honour of the centenary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge I am making a video of my installation Champs de Visions/Fields of Visions/Blickfelder available for viewing here Originally designed to be projected against an outside wall, approx. 3 metres wide x 6 metres high, and looped for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the film premiered at Mary Harris Memorial Chapel at Exeter, UK as part of the 1914FACES2014 project, it has also been exhibited in Peronne, France.

This installation is a meditation on the consequence of landscape and was shot by me in 2014-15 in Northern France. All footage was shot from the ground up, representing what would be the soldier experience of forest and field and trench in the flatlands of the Western Front. The film is not intended to be a travelogue, a documentary, a remembrance, but rather, it is intended to provoke thought, to ask what would it be to exist below the ground or lying flat against the earth always looking up, for weeks, months, years. All sound is ambient, including, astonishingly, the shotguns of Mametz Wood.

Other sites include Vimy, the German and Allied graveyards, and many other locales relevant to this day.

— smsteele


a note on Vimy

Following an article in the Globe and Mail I have some reflections based on my work as a Great War scholar. Vimy was indeed a landmark for the Canadian Expeditionary Force, but I believe that Canada was already a nation long before the battle and I challenge the narrative somewhat, as one can also read in the article. I have had the great fortune to visit Vimy several times, both above ground and underground in the extensive network of tunnels with modern conflict archeologists and bomb disposal experts. The monument is stunning and worthy, particularly in articulating the names of those whose earthly remains have never been found. To this end, I had the great fortune of being able to take some stems of long prairie grass from Canada and place them at the foot of the monument under the name of a young Albertan soldier who had disappeared in late September at the Somme in 1917. It was a profound feeling bringing a little piece of home to that lost soul.

But the narrative of Canada and the Great War is, I argue, far broader than trenches, mud, blood, and poppies. Certainly the success of the battle was significant, the casualties enormous, and strategic gains through the capture of the ridge were tremendous – a visit to the flatlands quickly illustrates the latter from this p.o.v. – Canadians, imagine trench warfare on the flattest prairie imaginable. But it is important to remember that the MAJORITY of soldiers returned (90% enlisted, 89% officer class). Thanks to the Durand Group who took me underground, I have read the ‘narrative’ of thousands of pieces of soldier graffiti in the souterrains and tunnels under Northern France. I can attest to the vitality of spirit expressed there. It is equally important to look at the support trades and the fantastic innovation of the engineers, the medicals (triage, x-ray, blood transfusion, reconstructive surgery, combat first aid, veterinarian medicine, etc. etc.) and many more professions that contributed to those percentiles of combatants RETURNING safely to Canada. Then let’s also remember the pacifists such as the Quakers who walked the walk and headed out into No Man’s Land UNARMED as ambulance stretcher bearers, and ambulance équipes, as carpenters and furniture makers who built homes for the MILLIONS of refugees, cooked and fed orphans etc. I have read the Quakers’ medical records in London and this cohort suffered PTSD, wounding, and illness in numbers that rival some army trades. So too did the nurses and VADs, proportionally. Disease was as potent an enemy to all as was bombardment and combat.

Yes, Vimy was very important to our country, but it’s important to remember the broader narrative too of voluntary citizenship, all the millions of women and even children who contributed, and to give credit where credit is due – certainly to our combatants, but also to the huge numbers, the tens of thousands that stood behind them and kept them going even on the darkest of days. We were Canadians long before Vimy Ridge and we did not need the approval of the BEF or anyone else to tell us this was so.

— smsteele


Review

Here is an excerpt from the February 2017 review by Geoffrey Newman of the January 2017 performance in Vancouver at the Orpheum of Jeffrey Ryan and my Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation. The work premiered in 2012 in Calgary and will travel to Toronto in November 2017.

The following is an excerpt of the review with comments on my libretti. Note that in classical music, for some reason, the librettist’s name is pro forma omitted but such is life in the classical music world I suppose. Also note that the author states Suzanne Steele … has now been named Canada’s first War Poet. While many have called me this and introduced me as such, I remain solely a member of CFAP as the first civilian poet to go to war as an official war poet artist! Not a title, just, perhaps, a fact. Here is a large portion of the review:

Given the specificity and immediacy of its inspiration, Jeffrey Ryan’s Afghanistan – Requiem for a Generation might have sought a particularly histrionic fabric. But over its hour length it turned out to be quite successful in balancing colour with a more universal sense of dignity, even if it did not secure the fullest depth of expression. The text was rewarding and often poignant, written by Suzanne Steele, who served in Afghanistan in 2009 and has now been named Canada’s first War Poet. It had a fine sensibility, sometimes naturalistic, sometimes symbolic, and often finding a stark economy of utterance. There were some innovations: multiple languages (Latin, English, French and Afghan Pashto) were used, and there was also a sequence of soldier dialogue.

— smsteele

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Suzanne Steele

WarPoet.ca is one of smsteele's Canadian Forces Artist Program projects. Through text, audio, images, video and contributions by Canada's military personnel, warpoet.ca examines and records the contemporary Canadian war experience. More →


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