A man who might be Erik Satie floats, à la Magritte, above Paris rooftops, thinking of a newly-extinct species of songbirds, “contemplating grief in the absence of song.” By turns tender, wry, playful and fierce, the poems in Dean Steadman’s second collection, Après Satie – For Two and Four Hands, use surreal imagery, recurring characters and cyclical themes to evoke the repetitive nature of much of Satie’s music, as well as the artistic and intellectual temperament of Paris during Satie’s most creative years.
The prose poems in the collection borrow titles from Satie’s piano compositions, and all of the poems are annotated in a manner similar to Satie’s published scores, using a selection of his performance instructions (for example, “like a nightingale with a toothache”).
From the affair of Satie and painter Suzanne Valadon to the glimpsed lives of a contortionist, a French cowboy, a Falling Man, and a Floating Woman in the Dada-inflected prose poems, to the musings in other poetic forms that draw us forward in time, to a present-day hospice, or back, to the gallop of a mounted huntress, Après Satie involves us in the ongoing muddle of pain, sorrow, compassion, passion, joy and curiousness that is our human condition.
Praise for Après Satie:
“When he died, Erik Satie left twelve grey suits hanging in his closet. With surreal virtuosity Dean Steadman has pulled eighty-four sinuous poems and prose riffs out of their velvet pockets.”—William Aide
“Shifting geography and perspective as easily as form, [these] poems beguile the senses as deftly as a menagerie of circus contortionists.” —Sandra Ridley
“Steadman’s highly original Après Satie is deeply engaging because of its range. He crafts a confluence of delicious diction, succulent energy, and evocative voice. The playful nature of the book shows itself in a mock-mini play, a sonnet about Spirit Travel, and prose poems chock full of music and surrealistic imagery. If an author’s job is to enchant, this is what Dean Steadman does. The originality of this book makes it impossible to ignore, and easily allows it to stand apart from the regular crowd of poetry books. Après Satie flies into your mouth and lands on your heart.” — Jurors’ comments 2017 Raymond Souster Award
Critic’s Desk Award – past winners — Arc Poetry Magazine