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Stupid Hope

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Overview

The final collection by the late Jason Shinder, “one of the finest of our new poets” (Gerald Stern)

I close my eyes and try to remember

when I was unopposed, when I started to die,

buoyant, fragrant, shuddering with love.

—from “Before”

Jason Shinder’s last poems are his moving testimonies to poetry, love, and friendship. With power, clarity, and disarming humor, the poems ...

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Overview

The final collection by the late Jason Shinder, “one of the finest of our new poets” (Gerald Stern)

I close my eyes and try to remember

when I was unopposed, when I started to die,

buoyant, fragrant, shuddering with love.

—from “Before”

Jason Shinder’s last poems are his moving testimonies to poetry, love, and friendship. With power, clarity, and disarming humor, the poems confront grief and mortality with a humility and fortitude that come only “with hope, stupid hope.” Stupid Hope is Shinder’s wry, penetrating, and wise farewell.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Jason Shinder:

“A wonderful strange humor and deep wisdom—what we need.” —Allen Ginsberg

“Jason Shinder’s second book of poems, the lovely and tortuous Among Women, forges a new place in the tradition of the journeying soul. Shinder . . . possesses a subtle, idiosyncratic, and revolutionary voice.” —Provincetown Arts

Library Journal
By most accounts Shinder—who died from cancer at 52 last year—led active social and professional lives. A community organizer among poets, he edited numerous anthologies and founded the YMCA's National Writer's Voice program. But like the two volumes of poetry that preceded it, this third, posthumous collection, edited by his friends, gives voice to "The whipped soul, the whacked and wounded self," a persona embalmed in a loneliness so impenetrable and hopeless that the conditions of life and death seem interchangeable. He speaks of "The strange sickness of being alive" and tells himself, "Maybe you inhabit a death." Interspersed with poems about his dying mother, Shinder's meditations on his own dire circumstances are largely devoid of image and figuration, soft-spoken and somber if not entirely humorless ("The cancer saved me from having to go/ to another book party") and suggest a grim, almost relieved acquiescence to the inevitable. VERDICT Though confessional in tone, these poems are never harrowing, their aspirations to intimacy undercut by an all-too-passive fatalism. For poetry insiders.—Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY
The Barnes & Noble Review
When poet Jason Shinder died last year, tragically young -- he was 53 -- no poet in America was unscathed. Shinder was famously generous. He created/directed the YMCA's National Writer's Voice and a writing program for Sundance Institute. In addition to his own two books of poems, Every Room We Ever Slept In and Among Women, he edited ten anthologies, including The Poem That Changed America: "Howl" Fifty Years Later. No book has been more eagerly, more tearfully awaited than his posthumously heartbreaking Stupid Hope. Shinder was his generation's John Keats. His lyric voice is acutely sensitive, exceptionally pure and clear. He lifts each moment, each object, to a brilliant, almost scalding clarity:

My mother so long ago, so young, so beautiful -- it's not possible.
Surely she is still somewhere combing away at her hair; that's why the air is so fragrant and the sheets in disarray when I awaken.

Shinder moves from his mother's dying to the fact of his own impending death. He is a poet of elegiac longing, the poet laureate of loneliness. In ?Company? he writes:

I've been avoiding my illness Because I'm afraid

I will die and when I do,
I'll end up alone again.

Yet other poems elicit the dark chocolate of sex, or the bitter brew of black humor: ?I'm becoming more like my father: I rarely have sex.? Four of the country's finest poets helped with the elegant construction of Stupid Hope: Sophie Cabot Black, Lucie Brock-Broido, Tony Hoagland, and Marie Howe. The result is a stunning book of poems that spark and speak to one another. --Liz Rosenberg

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555975333
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press
  • Publication date: 8/4/2009
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 88
  • Sales rank: 988,324
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Jason Shinder (1955–2008) was the author of two previous poetry collections and the editor of The Poem That Changed America: “Howl” Fifty Years Later. He directed the YMCA National Writer’s Voice and taught at the Writing Seminars at Bennington College.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 25, 2009

    the best most heartbreaking book of poems you'll read this year

    Absolutely heartbreaking and powerful collection of poems, about longing, lust, illness and death. The late Jason Shinder wrote wrenching, beautiful touching, unflinching poems about his mother's death and then about his own. Of course the book is about far more than this. Like most great books of poems, it is all about love and death-- and everything between. Beautifully edited and arranged by 4 great poets: Brock Broido, Cabot Black, Hoagland and Howe.

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