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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.

The Visit

Jason Shinder
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 her dead friend, Rosie, and heard the doorbell ring 
as though in the kitchen in the old place deciding if she should answer, 

rubbing the circle on her finger where the wedding ring once was 

while slipping downward on the sheets like a body without limbs and I slid 
my good arms beneath her arm-pits and pulled her bony body up 

against the two thin pillows. And then, when she was asleep again, 

I walked down the hallway's arc of yellow light, ghosts hovering 
on either side of the doors of rooms where the strange sickness 

of being alive was the last thing between dreaming and eternity 

which closes like the ocean closes over the blue-starry body 
and does not stop, and I understood again that we never come back, 

and upright, with everything that takes its life seriously, I returned to my mother. 

Copyright© 2005 by Jason Shinder. First published in The American Poetry Review, November/December 2005. From his forthcoming collection to be published by Graywolf. 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
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
Irene loves a man
      who is afraid of sex-- 
            she's attended

to everything,
      said it was okay,
            held me until I slept.

She says, Why don't you just
      not think about it?
            But I want to know

every sensation,
      nothing untouched,
            though I pull
poem
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