Campus: CSU Los Angeles -- June 29, 2004

Cal State L.A.’s English Professor Receives Fitzgerald Prosody Award

A nationally-recognized poet and a Cal State L.A. Outstanding Professor, Timothy Steele was recently presented a prestigious Robert Fitzgerald Prosody Award at the tenth annual West Chester Poetry Conference. The Fitzgerald award is unique among literary and academic prizes in recognizing scholars who have made a lasting contribution to the art and science of versification.

At the award presentation, Thomas Cable, English professor at the University of Texas, Austin, praised Professor Steele and his work: “Since 1979, Timothy Steele has published nine books of poetry and two books of prosodical history and metrical analysis. He has also written many articles and reviews of and about poetry, and he has edited the poems of J. V. Cunningham (1997).

“The strands of these many publications, all of them at a high level of excellence, weave themselves together in natural ways, though the point of focus and celebration for the Robert Fitzgerald Prosody Award is specifically the metrical scholarship, especially in the two books, Missing Measures: Modern Poetry and the Revolt against Meter (1990) and All the Fun’s in How You Say a Thing (1999).”

Cable adds, “The books are complementary in that Missing Measures is historical and cultural, and All the Fun’s in How You Say a Thing is practical. It can also be said that both books are theoretical, in the best sense of ‘theoretical,’ and Missing Measures is even philosophical, in the best sense of ‘philosophical.’ Both are extremely clearly written and very engaging, and a pleasure to read.”

Named after the noted Harvard professor and translator of the Homeric epics, the Robert Fitzgerald Prosody Award was established at the Fifth Conference on Poetry and Poetics in 1999. It has since honored five metrists who shaped the subject in the second half of the twentieth century: Derek Attridge, T. V. A. Brogan, Edward Weismiller, Paul Fussell, and George T. Wright.

Professor Timothy Steele, who obtained a B.A. from Stanford University and both an M.A. and a Ph.D. from Brandeis University, taught at Stanford University and UCLA before joining the Cal State L.A. faculty in 1987. He has taught classes in the classical and medieval tradition, the history of literary criticism, classical rhetoric, modern poetry, and creative writing. Steele’s honors and awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Peter I.B. Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Commonwealth Club of California Medal for Poetry, a California Arts Council Grant, and the Los Angeles PEN Center’s Literary Award for Poetry. He has been the subject of an interview on National Public Radio, and his poems have been featured on Garrison Keillor’s “Writers’ Almanac.”

In 1995, Steele was the focus of a front-page article in the “Life and Style” section of the Los Angeles Times that discussed his defense of metrical structures in poetry. His earlier publication, Missing Measures: Modern Poetry and the Revolt Against Meter (The University of Arkansas Press, 1990), called attention to a poetic tradition that—founded on meter, rhyme and stanza—is represented in our modern era by such poets as J.V. Cunningham and Richard Wilbur. His book was judged by contemporary critics as “a carefully argued and lucidly written work of scholarship,” and “a book of great acuity and breadth of knowledge.” His poetry—known for colloquiality, and with themes ranging from love and death, to nature and meditations on culture—has appeared in several collections, such as Uncertainties and Rest (1979), Sapphics Against Anger and Other Poems (1986), The Color Wheel (1994), and Sapphics and Uncertainties: Poems 1970-1986 (1995), and has been anthologized in widely-used college textbooks.

Contact: Margie Yu, (323) 343-3047

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