Jason Schneiderman is the author of four books of poems: Hold Me Tight (Red Hen Press 2020), Primary Source (Red Hen Press 2016), Striking Surface (Ashland Poetry Press 2010), and Sublimation (Four Way Books 2004). He edited the anthology Queer: A Reader for Writers (Oxford University Press 2016). His poetry and essays have appeared in American Poetry Review, The Best American Poetry, Poetry London, Grand Street, and The Penguin Book of the Sonnet. He is an Associate Professor of English at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY and lives in Brooklyn.
Hold Me Tight
Publication Date: May 26, 2020
In five poetic sequences, Jason Schneiderman’s Hold Me Tight considers life in a new age of anxiety as technology and violence inform new forms of selfhood and apocalypse seems always around the corner. Starting with a long poem about his own struggle to find peace, the collection is searingly grounded in the personal, anchored to Schneiderman’s own life. The collection moves to a sequence of parables about wolves, which obliquely consider intractable political conflicts and the emotional fallout of relationships that are structured around predators and prey. The next sequences focus on technology and art, looking at how technologies extend the possibilities of the human body, which alters what it means to be human. A long set of poems about Chris Burden explore the artist’s movement from the personal, self-inflicted violence of his early work to the larger questions of political violence that inform his later work. In the final sequence, Schneiderman imagines a series of “last things”—in which finality gives meaning to the people and things in question. In the end, Schneiderman’s project invokes a kind of old fashioned humanism, which embraces the ruptures of our contemporary ways of living and thinking.
“Jason Schneiderman’s Hold Me Tight is a tour de force of risk and vulnerability. The images that populate this book—from wolves to submarines—show how every story we’ve ever been told (every fairy tale heard, every movie watched) becomes an internalized part of our reality. And that reality is made all the more real when we can talk about it. These poems read like a wrought conversation the speaker only wishes he could have: “I needed/that story once; I’m telling it to you now,/because I know I may need it again.” And the discursive mode here always leads us to a place of surprise, a place where Schneiderman can declare, “This is the one thing/I have never told anyone. I still believe in the circle./I may be the last, but I believe.” What a tenderly beautiful book!”—Jericho Brown, author of The Tradition
“Jason Schneiderman’s poems are rife with a dark and gorgeous intelligence. If I compare them to a razor in an apple, please understand that I mean both the razor and the apple.”—Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours, winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
Publication Date: April 29, 2016
Primary Source presents Jason Schneiderman’s most exuberant volume of poetry, as he plays with the literary canon and explores his own personal archive. Starting with rewritten lyrics that put Cole Porter’s “You’re the Top” squarely in po-biz, Schneiderman takes on everyone from Shakespeare to Ashbery, making stops along the personal and the political, and interrogating ideas of race, sexuality, and love. Playful and profound, Schneiderman’s light touch is guaranteed to send tingles up your spine.
“Jason Schneiderman’s Primary Source is a sparkling demonstration of this principle: a poet evolves by making as many aspects of the self as possible available on the page. By turns sardonic and sincere, nakedly vulnerable or armored in irony, the wild magpie intelligence shaping these poems plucks threads from Shakespeare and Stein, borrows forms from Cole Porter and Wittgenstein, and bows to a variety of influences so vast (Sylvia Plath and David Lee Rothe) as to constitute a way of situating the self, introducing the dizzily happy reader to a queer subject, a livewire thinker at work, a breathing human presence.”—Mark Doty