Poetry / Jason Schneiderman
:: The Last Ace of Base Enthusiast ::
The last Ace of Base Enthusiast wishes she could live in the 1990s. The last Ace of Base Enthusiast imagines a world where it was impossible to avoid Ace of Base—where it would be playing over the stereo when you entered a convenience store, or when you went to the bank. At first she was annoyed when her friends asked her what the songs meant, or tried to pin her down on precisely what “the sign” was, or insisted on knowing why the main character was crying in “Don’t Turn Around.” Later, she was frustrated when her friends refused to listen to her answers, and she had to write a book explaining all of the lyrics, and the multiple permutations by which they might be understood. No one bought the book, so she started making dioramas of the convenience stores and banks in the 1990s where you couldn’t avoid Ace of Base songs. Her show of dioramas is well received, and highly regarded as an example of “The New Retrospectivists” though she is consistently hurt by the pride that critics take in being able “to endure the hideous cacophony of screeching vocals that the artist has dredged up from a past that we remember with great pain, but as she has shown us, forget at our own peril.” Once, she thinks, people would have bought the CD in the gift shop on the way out of the museum, back in the 1990s, when there were CDs.
:: Little Red Riding Wolf ::
On the lecture circuit, Little Red Riding Wolf is generally brought to tears by at least one question. Wolves tend to accuse her of being a collaborator, while humans tend to demand to know if she has ever eaten a person herself. Folklorists tend to dismiss her outright as being trapped in a very stupid story, while a certain cadre of literary theorists consider her very identity an ouroboros, a figure that they hope will become as popular as the rhizome once became for an earlier generation of scholars. None of this helps Little Red Riding Wolf, whose only real pleasure is cruising online dating apps, never meeting up, but pretending sometimes to be only a wolf, sometimes to be only a little girl.
From the writer
:: Account ::
While these poems were written as part of very different sequences, they both reflect the ways that I often see identity as radiant or contagious in ways that blur affinity or obligation and defy simplified (but necessary) forms of standpoint epistemology. I think we’re in a time when we are focused on unitary forms of identity, which is a crucial corrective to a kind of postmodernism that failed to decenter dominant modes of identity by extending certain failures of mid twentieth century humanism. Both poems are about characters caught in forms of identity that look incoherent to the people around them. The characters find strategies for being seen in ways that make the mis-recognition productive and emotionally satisfying, but they can’t quite find their way to being perceived in the ways that they perceive themselves. Poems allow me concretize the abstractions that buzz around my head all day, so—fingers crossed—you enjoyed the poems more than the account.
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 Point (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.