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Striking Surface by Jason Schneiderman Reviewed in Publisher’s Weekly

August 9, 2010

Striking Surface CoverJason Schneiderman, Ashland Univ. (SPD., dist.), $15.95 (64p) ISBN 978-0-912592-70-1 (Publisher’s Weekly)

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.” (Sept.)

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