Steven Toussaint was born in Chicago in 1986. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Victoria University of Wellington, where he is studying the wider implications of Ezra Pound's concept of melopoeia, "wherein the words are charged, over and above their plain meaning, with some musical property, which directs the bearing or trend of that meaning," and its influence on contemporary poetics. He is the author of the chapbook, Fiddlehead (Compound Press 2014), and his poems have recently appeared in The Cultural Society, Minarets, and The Winter Anthology. He lives in Mt. Eden with his partner, Ellie, and two cats, Isis and Laura Palmer.
Fiddlehead takes as its premise the geographical world-view put forth by Dante in Commedia and in Questio de acqua et terra that after Satan's fall from heaven, all the land in the southern hemisphere fled to the north, leaving a vast expanse of ocean, interrupted only by the single mountain island of Purgatory. Roughly 600 years ago, decades of eruption in the Hauraki Gulf produced the volcanic island of Rangitoto, which lends its awesome presence to the Auckland landscape. The poem was composed in the winter of 2012 on the North Shore of Auckland and imagines Rangitoto as the ‘montagna bruna / per la distanza’ Ulysses describes to Dante, which he saw from his ship before the sea swallowed him and his doomed companions (Inferno XXVI).