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About this poet

Jason Shinder was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1955. He was the founder and director of the YMCA National Writer's Voice, as well as the director of Sundance Institute's Writing Program. He taught in the graduate writing programs at Bennington College and the New School University.

He is the author of Among Women (Graywolf Press, 2001), Every Room We Ever Slept In (1993), a NY Public Library Notable Book, and the chapbook Uncertain Hours.

About his second book, Among Women, Carol Muske-Dukes wrote: "I don't know of any male poet who approximates the honest terror and desire, the sense of shock that runs through these poems. They are so fixed in a merciless surgical light and yet they're so tender and alive with emotion."

Shinder is also the editor of many anthologies, most recently: The Poem That Changed America: "Howl" Fifty Years Later (2006) and The Poem I Turn To: Actors and Directors Present Poetry That Inspires Them (2008).

His awards and fellowships include serving as Poet Laureate of Provincetown, MA, and a 2007 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He divided his time between Provincetown and New York City. Shinder died in April 2008.

How I Am

Jason Shinder
When I talk to my friends I pretend I am standing on the wings 

of a flying plane. I cannot be trusted to tell them how I am. 
Or if I am falling to earth weighing less 

than a dozen roses. Sometimes I dream they have broken up 

with their lovers and are carrying food to my house. 
When I open the mailbox I hear their voices 

like the long upward-winding curve of a train whistle 

passing through the tall grasses and ferns 
after the train has passed. I never get ahead of their shadows. 

I embrace them in front of moving cars. I keep them away 

from my miseries because to say I am miserable is to say I am like them. 

Copyright© 2005 by Jason Shinder. First published in The American Poetry Review, November/December 2005. From Stupid Hope (Graywolf, 2009). Appears with permission of the Literary Estate of Jason Shinder.

Copyright© 2005 by Jason Shinder. First published in The American Poetry Review, November/December 2005. From Stupid Hope (Graywolf, 2009). Appears with permission of the Literary Estate of Jason Shinder.

Jason Shinder

Jason Shinder

Jason Shinder was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1955. He was the

by this poet

poem
My only mother, who lost sixty pounds, tried to stand up in the bathroom 

and fell backwards on the white linoleum floor in the first hour of the morning 
and was carried to the bed in the nurse's arms and then abruptly 

opened her eyes, later, the room dark, and twisted the needles in her arms 

and talked to
poem
Because I am not married, I have the skin of an orange 

that has spent its life in the dark. Inside the orange 
I am blind. I cannot tell when a hand reaches in 

and breaks the atoms of the blood. Sometimes
 
a blackbird will bring the wind into my hair. 
Or the yellow clouds falling on the cold floor are
poem
My friend says she is like an empty drawer 

being pulled out of the earth. 
I am the long neck of the giraffe coming down 

to see what she doesn't have. 

What holds us chained to the same cold river, 
where we are surprised by the circles 

we make in the ice? When we talk about the past

it is like pushing