About the book

Inspired by eastern myth and theology, the Persian epic, Hindu scripture, and other eastern classics, Metropantheon, Steven Artelle's gritty, brilliant, and wonderfully eccentric debut collection, seeks to inject a bit of spiritual levity into the rat-race void of western urban life. In Metropantheon readers find a city teeming with its own unique rituals and mythical beings like graffitichild. Here instances of the divine exist even in the most decayed urban spaces. Poems become prayers for commuting, exalt gods of intersections and skyscrapers, offer origin myths, and create urban culture heroes tailored for the crowded, relentless pace of modern city life. Humorous, dark, racing with the furious heartbeat of a Torontonian commuter, Metropantheon captivates long beyond the subway ride to the office.

About the author

Artelle, Steven

Steven Artelle lives in Ottawa, where he works at Library and Archives Canada. He has a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Western Ontario. In 2013 AngelHousePress published his chapbook four hundred rabbits, an excerpt from a work in progress. Metropantheon is his first collection of poetry.


graffitichild builds the church of sleep

janny graffitichild could tease out
even the dragons threaded in the air
and he did she with her jostling his wrist
twisted them like magician’s silk
from their secret pipes in the brickwall sky
that time she dreamed he of the stained glass girl
sprawled unconscious at the intersection of nothing
her silent movie light and flickering breath
breaking a collage of bells against the heart of everywhere

and nightshifter graffitichild knew
more than anything a city needs sleep
so he whispered she to the hypnotic figurine
I’ll worry you a church sweet starfish
but with grinning instinct contracted the circadian job
to the deafening reptiles she unravelled he like wires
spitting sparks from all the anxious cracks in heaven
one for every wakeful hour that graffitichild trickmaker
built the church of sleep with dragons
high in the midnight steeple he welded she those restless lizards
with engines in their mouths and poisoned nostalgia
and starving or gorged or razored with passion
the reptile mortar wrapped around and around
the darkbright girl who would dandelion vanish
if graffitichild didn’t engineer monsters
to thrash a sanctuary against the freeway winds
and let sleep long for all her desperate pilgrims
curled up in the coils of her unforgiving church


Steven Artelle's Metropantheon sprays over the commonplace literary tropes of Canadian poetry with the graffiti of the urban environment. Artelle asserts the raw, stressed but vibrant beauty of the metropolis in language tuned to the task: portmanteau words, paratactic syntax, funky… >>

— Stephen Brockwell, author of Fruitfly Geographic

Steven Artelle’s Metropantheon tags over and deconstructs the urban space and elevates the city to mythic proportions. The exposed streets and hidden alleyways are rewritten to erase the monotony of daily living to shift towards a reflection of our most… >>

— Francesca Bianco Vallum

Down the rabbit hole: Subverting the urban world

In thinking about Steven Artelle’s Metropantheon, a debut collection of poetry that seeks to unsettle the sometimes droid-like existence of urban life, another piece of creative work leaps to… >>

— Francesca Bianco Vallum Magazine

Urban Legends
Poet helps you to see city life through a new lens. 

There's a cult that's rising in the city, and its leader is Steven Artelle. Romantic rapture inspires an urban transcendence in his poetry… >>

— Steve Locke Prairie Books NOW

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