Striking Surface   (September 2010)


By Jason Schneiderman

ISBN: 978-0-912592-70-1

Striking Surface is the winner of the 2009 Richard Snyder Publication Prize.

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"Schneiderman practices, and sometimes excels at, the kind of art that seems, at first, artless: his sonnets, prose poems, and sparse free verse show a laconic figure whose grave reserve reveals itself in carefully stripped-down language, using only the most common American words. This second collection organizes itself around the poet's eight-part elegy for his mother, which provides some of its rawest lines: "I shovel dirt on your coffin. This is the living kicking you out. The dead go under the ground, so stay there." Elsewhere Schneiderman (Sublimation Point) reaches for historical events that also provoke awe, or horror, or mourning: in "The Children's Crusade II" "The body is a gate,/ a test." Another poem cuts back and forth between Aeschylean tragedy and the film High Noon to make its points about peace and war. Schneiderman's connections between world events and his own experience can seem strained, his verse effects less elegant than simple: yet he finds, often enough, a durable wisdom in his reduced means: "Each mouse," he writes, "is the first mouse,// the same failure/ to live clean-/ ly."

- Publisher's Weekly


"Jason Schneiderman is a sly, dextrous, and in many ways existential poet. Intellect and feeling meet head-on in his work; their collision elicits arresting moments of clarity, of understanding. These poems seem to believe without believing, betraying the depths (always scary) beneath their surface veneer. Sometimes Schneiderman stands naked, as in the breathtaking elegies to his mother. I feel this book has taught me something new about mortality and human need."

- David Trinidad


"How can a book filled with figures from religious history and Greek mythology, and with an entire section of elegies devoted to the poet’s mother, make most other poetry collections feel stodgy by comparison? And yet Jason Schneiderman’s Striking Surface does just that. Something like Auden’s attentive liveliness of mind sparks these poems, along with flare-ups like Frank O’Hara’s exuberant vernacular. As its title suggests, Striking Surface is a book of combustible combinations, where angst is leveled by irreverence, and the old verities are pried open at revealing angles. And it’s appropriate that the longest poem takes Prometheus as its hero. Jason Schneiderman brings to this vision of a suffering world an art of calm intensity." 

- Elton Glaser


"Jason Schneiderman has a fabulous, distillate gift for seeing to the heart of inherited paradigms: the Greeks on violence and the gods; the Christian Middle Ages on violence and conquest; the all-too-transhistorical, multicultural Everywhere on violence toward children. Hence the ravishing paradox of Schneiderman's poems, which find their freshest purchase in twice-told tales: the myths of Hyacinth and Echo, the myth of the progressive totalitarian state, the skepticism of the Rabbis, the nostalgia of the skeptical philosophers. Striking Surface (six of them on the hand alone, says the latest Interrogation Manual) is both beautifully conceived and beautifully written: witty, trenchant, tender, acerbic, and always, immutably, wise."

- Linda Gregerson


About the Author

Jason SchneidermanJason Schneiderman is the author of Sublimation Point, a Stahlecker Selection from Four Way Books.  His poetry and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including American Poetry Review, The Best American Poetry, Poetry London, Grand Street, The Penguin Book of the Sonnet, Story Quarterly, and Tin House.  He has received fellowships from Yaddo, The Fine Arts Work Center, and The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.  He was the recipient of the Emily Dickinson Award from the Poetry Society of America in 2004.  A graduate of the MFA program at NYU, he is currently completing his doctorate at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. http://jasonschneiderman.net/

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