Jason Shinder was a poet and anthologist, among other things. But what I'll remember him most for, is his kindness, his gentleness, and his humility.
Whenever we spoke or had any contact, whether emails or in person, he came across as truly caring about me, my ideas, my feelings, my state of mind and heart.
He'd been suffering with his illness for a long time, and yet, in his presence, you got the impression that his only concern was your well being. Despite the fact that his presence, given the odds he was fighting, was miraculous in and of itself.
He and Michael O'Keefe recently edited an anthology of poetry selected by others, called THE POEM YOU TURN TO. On the way back from the Berkshires today, I heard Alfre Woodard on the Tavis Smiley show read one of the two poems she selected and commented on for the book, and was delighted by it.
Jason and Michael asked me to contribute two selections as well, and I'm grateful to have been a part of the project. But the thing I'm most grateful for, is I getting to see Jason one last time a few months ago, and feeling the spiritual depth of his acceptance of his lot, and yet not letting it stop him from living his life as fully as he was able, which, as it turns out, was more fully than most of us who aren't faced with the phsyical challenges he was.
I'm happy to know the book came out only days before he passed, so that he was able to see the project through, with Michael, from idea to publication. I hope in some small way, it's a tribute to his contribution to the vitality of the presence of poetry in the lives of many more of us than the media ever seems to grasp.
He'll be missed. He already is.