Working to find one’s place in the world is a journey all its own. For John Steffler, finding his place in the world is only the first step.

“I can’t really explain or analyze what I get from landscape,” he says. “It has to do with a sense of being alive and at home.”

When John Steffler describes a landscape, he goes beyond the trees, beyond the hills and beyond even himself. He lets the landscape do the talking and gives it its own voice: “At the sun-scarred table, heat / rustles the eucalyptus leaves overhead, pine / and oregano spirits brushing us.”

His poetic voice carries over into his fiction, imbuing the work with rich imagery and description. Johns’ latest work, German Mills, chronicals the historical figure William Berczy as he journeys from the restrictions of Germany to war-torn Poland, Italy, and ultimately to Upper Canada via the American wilderness. Along the way Berczy wears many hats – spy, envoy, painter, adventuer, settler. “German Mills is a portrait of a man entangled in the vain romanticism and restless ambition that propelled the colonial dream and yet lurks just below the surface of Canadian society.”

John received his BA in English at the University of Toronto and went on to complete his MA in English at the University of Guelph, where he read a range of Western and Eastern literature and thought. His work has received much recognition for its vivid and surrealist style. He was awarded the Newfoundland and Labrador Book Award for Helix. He has been Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate, and his book Lookout was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize.

Appearing in: 31. Aristocrats, Scoundrels, Painters & Prospectors: Canadian Historical Fiction