Ed Steele has been writing creatively for over fifteen years, and his work represents the depths of human emotions and experiences. While living in China, he ventured into the world of self-publishing with two chapbooks in 2022 and 2023. The first of these projects, Steele These Words, is a labor of love that spans from his early twenties into adulthood. This collection captures his mental and emotional growth over time. 24 Seasons reveals his challenges and experiences of living through a pandemic in Beijing, and it was released just weeks before his departure from China.
Ed likes to tackle important social issues with his writing; his work explores themes related to mental health, masculinity, and the blurry line between self-care and indulgence. He draws inspiration from writers like Luka Lesson and Omar Musa, as well as some hip-hop artists. Outside of his poetic aspirations, he is a dedicated English Language and Literature teacher in the international school sector, and this passion is seen throughout his own writing, where he incorporates line enjambment and rhythm-based stanzas. Ed recently relocated to Penang, Malaysia, and he finds himself in a new environment filled with opportunities to create. The stresses, tensions, and unpredictability of the past three years of traversing COVID-19 in China left an impact on him. He is currently working on refining his poetic style, relaxing, and connecting with his new surroundings.
Ed is in the planning stages of his first novella, which will explore the power dynamics within schools and multicultural societies. In the future, he wants to collaborate with his talented friend, Dan Avila, to make a graphic novel. Dan is also the artist who made the artwork for 24 Seasons. When it comes to the titles of Ed’s books, Steele These Words was designed to make the reader take their own meanings from his words, and he enjoyed the pun of his name in the title, too! With the second collection, he had quite a few discussions with a close friend at the pub, looking at how the Chinese calendar uses 24 seasons to describe microchanges in the environment. This seemed really relevant to his collection, as it encompasses the speed at which their lives changed in Beijing. Ed’s writing process has changed a lot over the last decade; he used to write regularly at the end of the day after work, and always with pen and paper. More recently, he has been using his transit times to work as a reflective space, and the draft of his last book was written in his phone notes.
Ed likes to get all his ideas down in a flurry and leave it there for a few weeks before transferring it to his laptop and editing it. Performing live also helps, as he listens back to the recordings and notes what needs more emphasis. One of the biggest challenges he faces is knowing when to use font, italics, and punctuation to encourage a specific style of reading. Throughout his childhood and teens, he was always sketching and drawing, and cartooning and animation was his first creative outlet. When he dropped out of animation college in his early twenties, he was listening to a lot of hip-hop and spending time with graffiti artists; oftentimes, there would be people sitting around and freestyling verses. Ed started taking it more seriously in his mid-twenties. He is inspired by big concepts, such as well-being, mental health, addiction issues, and masculinity. However, he also draws inspiration from more simple things, such as coffee, the weather and observing people from his bus transits.
Ed usually writes in a café or on a bus, however, he also writes at home on the balcony or at the pub. He struggles with finding when to slow down and not overwrite it. He tries to write at least two to three times a week and findsit difficult to force himself into a daily writing routine. He allows himself a lot of time to read over his work during school holiday breaks, as it gives him a chance to look for connecting ideas and themes. Sharing raw emotion and mental anguish led Ed to writing, and in the process, writing energizes him to share his ideas with friends, family, and other poets. However, he finds the printing, putting book launches together, and promotion really tiresome.
Ed loves reading, especially modern poetry, fiction, philosophy, and mind-set books. He has recently been enjoying some Australian fiction, such as Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe and Craig Silvey’s Honeybee. He’s also been reading the collected poems of Omar Musa’s Killernova, which is full of Malay-inspired poetry and wood-cutting prints. His favorite book genres are adventure and mystery, but he finds it hard to engage with historical fiction. Out of his own writing, Ed really likes the poem “Treasure Yourself”, as there is a lot of imagery and wordplay with the message to keep putting your well-being first. If he had to choose a writing mentor, it would be either Langston Hughes or Luka Lesson. Other inspirations for his writing would be Omar Musa, Warsan Shire, and Jack Kerouac.
When Ed isn’t writing, he spends his spare time playing Magic: The Gathering, and hiking and biking around Penang with his wife. Literary success for Ed is connecting with an audience, whether this be in person, through messages, or just having people read his works. He has always seen poetry as an art form and an outlet, and commercial success other than that is just a nice bonus. He thinks it would be fantastic to have his poems studied or part of a collection of studied works in a curriculum, too.
As for new writers, his advice would be to write whatever you want and share whatever you care. He believes writing is a beautiful outlet for decoding and decompressing; much of what he works on isn’t shared and he’s okay with that. He notes that it’s important to be persistent, know why you’re writing and who you’re writing for, and let it come out without censoring yourself. You can find Ed Steele on www.edsteelepoetry.com, on Instagram as @edsteelepoetry, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org