This page is arranged in two sections, each with the most recent books at the top. I've included publication information, a description from the publisher, and (where available) links to reviews. The first section includes books that you can order through bookstores, online, or from the publisher. The second section includes books that you can order directly from me. If you have any problems or questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or text me at 312-566-8194. Thanks for your interest!
If you have an independent bookstore in your neighborhood, you can print this page (or just jot down title and isbn) and take it to them. Most of my books are available through Ingram, and bookstores will be able to have them for you within a few days. If you're a hermit like me or don't have an indie bookstore in your neighborhood, you can click on the cover image or use the link at the end of each description to order online. [Other online retailers will also have the books, but I encourage you to support independent bookstores. Writers and book lovers need them, and they need us.] A good resource for checking online availability is isbn.nu.
What's Love Got To Do With It? A City Out of Thin Air. Lamar University Press, 2016. isbn 9781942956228. This collection gathers eight public lectures delivered between 2009 and 2015 under the auspices of the Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults at the University of Chicago’s Graham School. Schroeder approaches the lecture as scholarly work that is not simply academic, as a public reading—a performance—that weaves poetry and prose in conversation with participants who are coming and going. That makes it a kind of dance. All of these pieces dance about politics, place, poetry, and vision—with dance partners that include Emily Dickinson, Miller Williams, Toni Morrison, Virginia Woolf, Aristotle, Tina Turner, the Song of Songs, Henri Bergson, Karl Marx, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Blake, Cornel West, Václav Havel, Saint Francis, Leonardo Boff, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther, Zhuangzi, Robert Frost, John Cage, Percy Shelley, Georgia O’Keeffe, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Laozi—and they begin and end by going home to Texas. The rhythm between going home and going away is the rhyme if not the reason for the dispersed city on which all these lectures dwell. The city is a conversation, and conversation is necessarily improvisational. In that sense, it is a sort of song that is subject to interruption; and, at its best, it takes up the invitation of “Simple Gifts” to dance wherever we may be, to turn and to turn—and to delight in the turning. | order from an independent bookstore.
Red Stones, poems by Jonas Zdanys, paintings by Steven Schroeder. Lamar University Literary Press, 2016. isbn 9781942956211. Red Stones is a collection of poems by internationally-known poet Jonas Zdanys. In this book you will find Zdanys’ best writing yet, 12-line lyric poems that speak clearly through vivid multi-sensual imagery and the textured language of a master poet. Working with the poet in producing this book is artist Steven Schroeder, who presents brilliant as well as subtle color in paintings that sometimes fall between the abstract and the literal and offer both beauty and something to ponder. Added to the collaborative art of poet and painter is the book itself, designed by Regina Schroeder, so this small volume is an aesthetic masterpiece, one you will enjoy holding, reading, rereading, examining the paintings in various light, and appreciating the interplay of three art forms: poetry, painting, and book design. | order from an independent bookstore.
the moon, not the finger, pointing. Lamar University Literary Press, 2016. isbn 9781942956167. The moon, not the finger, pointing is a sort of memoir – a collection of 67 lyric poems that trace the course of a life from the Texas Panhandle through Chicago to China and back, with the window open “because everybody knows / by now there is a poem out there.” In Chicago, “a street musician / plays Vivaldi on violin not two blocks from / a kid shaking a cup half full of coins, / keeping time to Public Enemy, / still fighting the power / on an old boom box” and an encounter with two cops asking after “a woman in red talking crazy” ends with “a solemn vow to speak truth / to power, to tell all // next time an armed patrol stops me / to ask about speaking in public / and what I see when I hear it.” In Shenzhen, “we wander slowly through / a long talk on cracks in neo- // liberal cities where artists live. / A friend of friends says / strong German beer / has made her dizzy and I look // like Marx.” Along the way, “Every common road is / lined with recollection.” Reading Arkansas Testament in a bar in Springfield, Missouri, “the sound sense of a sentence / I think might be Mingus creeps in / between Walcott’s invocation / of Richard Pryor and / his Newark, the appearance of a messiah / nowhere more evident than on every corner / here as he says it is there—and // hearing Hampton’s vibraphone rising / from a sea of sound that signifies nothing, / I believe.” And in the end, “The hand / evolved for nothing, the way / the universe turns. It is // what it has done, what / it does, what it will / do. It is // the moon, not / the finger, // pointing.” | order from an independent bookstore.
The Daodejing: A New Interpretation by David Breeden, Steven Schroeder, and Wally Swist. Lamar University Press, 2015. isbn 9780991532179. This is a multi-step collaborative translation that began with the Chinese put into English. Then the three scholar-poets worked on the language of their first step in translation to make better available to modern readers the experience of a poem through an integration of form and meaning. Without such an integration, the aesthetic experience of reading a poem is at best only partial, at worst not a meaningful experience at all. This new Daodejing is both the old one with all its majesty and a new one offered in twenty-first century American English as wielded by true experts: poets who will not and cannot divorce meaning from form. | order from an independent bookstore.
Raging for the Exit: A Commonplace Book (with David Breeden). Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2012. isbn 9781620322079. Inspired by the commonplace books and epistolary tradition of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in which writers ranged through science, philosophy, music, theology, poetry, and anything else that struck their fancies, this book is a collaboration, an improvisation in two voices. Drawing on a variety of traditions and a cloud of witnesses, from Amos Wilder, Paul Ricoeur, and Theodor Adorno to Michael Taussig and Zhao Dongming, along with wide-ranging riffs on Hebrew and Christian scriptures, the authors search reality's mysteries with wit and insight. | order from the publisher or check with your independent bookstore.
Turn. Virtual Artists Collective, 2012. isbn 9780944048054. In the spirit of the old Shaker hymn, the poems in Steven Schroeder’s new collection turn and turn – from a question Laozi raises to Woody Guthrie’s holy ground, from Chicago to Texas to Shenzhen to Macao, in conversation with poets and philosophers from Euclid and Thoreau to Emily Dickinson, John Donne, Gertrude Stein, Buddy Holly, Lyle Lovett, and others encountered “everywhere there is // an edge. And / everywhere there is // an edge…” Sick and tired of being sick and tired, they take off their shoes, say “amen” to birds and the sympathy of cats, marvel at a red moon in Oklahoma in July, hope “it stays / a long long time // long enough for all that light to fill us with all the madness we need to remember…” They “sing the silences, wait,” stop “for coffee and a moment / of Monk under other / people’s conversations…,” rejoice “in collisions that make light possible / in a world where matter, mostly / dark, mostly passes through / what matters to us, undetected” where “every poem is a dance, / every spring daisy a resurrection” – dancing on the page, “where / fiber and fiber embrace to make // a plane surface on the edge / of the holograph world / we think we / occupy.” [Review by Elizabeth W. Jackson in Concho River Review, Fall 2013] | order from an independent bookstore.
Four Truths. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2011. isbn 9781610974493. Four Truths is not a traditional scholarly work. It consists of three short stories and a verse drama built around the four noble truths of Buddhism—each followed by a prose reflection in the form of a series of theses. The text is complemented by thirteen images from a series of ink brush paintings done by Macao artist Debby Sou Vai Keng in response to the book. It is an invitation to conversation rather than a systematic philosophical or theological argument—though it is an invitation in the scholastic tradition of academic theses that will appeal to students of comparative religion and philosophy and could serve as an entry point for discussion in ethics and moral philosophy as well as philosophy of religion. | order from the publisher or or check with your independent bookstore.
a guest giving way like ice melting: thirteen ways of looking at laozi (with Debby Sou Vai Keng). Temple, TX: Ink Brush Press, 2010. isbn 9780982440575. "Grappling with the challenge of Wallace Stevens’ masterpiece, “Thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird,” Steven Schroeder and Debby Sou Vai Keng combine the poet’s craft, philosophical ways of thought and the practice of Sinology to reconfigure and metamorphose Laozi’s wisdom book into a long poem in totally natural English. The product speaks to our world today with its maddened consumerism, war as national habit, the eternal questions of death and creativity, and the struggle to be rather than just exist. This elegant and beautiful little book helps us understand some of the eternal questions — and some transitory ones as well." —Paul Friedrich, University of Chicago | order from an independent bookstore. [copies are also available directly from the author]
a dim sum of the day before. Temple, TX: Ink Brush Press, 2010. isbn 9780982440568. The 52 lyric poems gathered in A Dim Sum of the Day Before were all written in southern and southwestern China during 2008. The south and the southwest have a long history on the edge, and these poems embrace it, beginning with a confusion of maos: “Speakers of putonghua never mistake / the late Chairman for a cat, but I do / so often with joy, delighted / that every cat I meet on the street / could be his ghost wondering / how on earth it came to this.” While maos wonder, birds “tap dance / on the translucent roof” and “mayflies chant / there can be no pleasure / where there is no danger.” When the Olympic torch passes far from Beijing “every person / who stops on the street / for a photo to prove / he was here stands / under a flag.” Sticky flags the crowd wears end up on the walk, where “in the end women on their knees / scrape remnants off paving stones / so no one will walk on the flag without thinking.” After the Sichuan earthquake, trees “can’t resist a confetti shower / after rain. They scatter // yellow rainbows where / we walk, remember / the dead but dance for // the living, shower / each going on / with flowers.” And, from this edge, on the fifth anniversary of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the poet watches “States / line up living Buddhas / like barricades, tip them // like buses in burning streets, check / body counts, silence what is / out of line, contain // slow burns off stage so / nobody shouts fire until / all that is left is ashes.” Celebrating the year of the rat in a “city rising, // like a single moment dancing in the clearing / of a truce negotiated on some battlefield,” these poems invite readers to come to China “for the light, gray / soft through everyday / fog,” point to a sign that cautions “a little heart / with your head,” think Mapfumo while Tuku sings “I’m feeling low,” sip Yunnan coffee in a shop named Salvador, “dream / a failed revolution in our own exile.” [Review by Reid Mitchell in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, September 2010] | [Review by Ben Myers in This is just to Say, May 2011] | order from an independent bookstore.
On Not Founding Rome: The Virtue of Hesitation. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2010. isbn 9781606086100. This book is an attempt to critically embrace a tradition — a culture — in which the author was formed and against which he has often found himself in resistance, using academic disciplines in which he is well versed but about which he is deeply suspicious. This book began to come together as a book in a series of lectures on the history of Western thought at Shenzhen University in the People's Republic of China, an opportunity to cultivate disciplined criticism that might afford a second look at traditions behind the West which are being embraced all too quickly. In a time of acceleration, this book offers a meditation on the virtue of hesitation. The book is an invitation to philosophy and the history of ideas, but it is also a sustained critical reflection on the religious dimensions — explicit and implicit — of those ideas, with enough utopian vision left to imagine a city in which violence is not necessary. | order from the publisher or check with your local independent bookstore.
on the no road way to tomorrow, Edited with Li Sen, Liang Huichun, Long Xiaoying, and Charlie Newman. Virtual Artists Collective, 2009. isbn 9780981989839. The English title of this bilingual collection (taken from the last line of the last poem) tips a hat to Jack Kerouac and to Laozi, while the Chinese title (taken from the first line of the first poem) welcomes readers to a realm of small things. The 27 poets gathered here share a delight in one small thing – poetry – that has made a scene worthy of big celebrations in each of the two cities they represent – Kunming and Chicago. The anthology is the result of an ongoing collaboration, the Chicago-Kunming Poetry Group, that has published two annual volumes of New Poetry Appreciation, which gathers the work of Chinese poets and Chicago poets in Chinese translation. The poems in this anthology are selected from the journal and presented in both English and Chinese. The anthology (which also includes 28 black and white photos) gathers a fascinating cross-section of contemporary poetry in English and Chinese, a dim sum selected from two cities where poetry thrives, a tasty introduction to two vibrant communities of poetry. | order from an independent bookstore.
Two Southwests, Edited with Li Sen, Long Xiaoying, Wang Hao, and Zhang Xiaohong. Virtual Artists Collective, 2008. isbn 9780979882562. This bilingual collection gathers poems by twenty-seven contemporary poets from the southwestern United States and southwestern China – “two southwests,” two variations on an illusion of geographic precision behind which there are people who find themselves in both natural environments and political ones, who come to know in various ways that what we can and cannot see is as likely to depend on a map as a mountain, or when and where the river is dry enough to cross. What we say and what we don’t, as surely as what we see and what we can’t, are products of politics as well as location. But, politics and perspective aside, it is a matter of collision – and putting ourselves in places where we will collide can be an aid to vision. By bringing poets together in two places similarly named by virtue of their respective places on somebody else’s maps, we intend to facilitate a collision. In our southwests, there is space for silence – and the intersection of sky with earth on open plains can teach us to appreciate nothing whether the plateau beneath our feet is below Tibet or above the Caprock. Between the poems and between the lines, nothing that is there may make our being present a bit more possible. | order from an independent bookstore.
The Imperfection of the Eye. Virtual Artists Collective, 2007. isbn 9780979882500. There is an all at once quality to lyric poetry that makes it akin to mysticism. It knows there is more to vision than meets the eye. It takes the whole world in while knowing the whole of it is always known imperfectly, always here, always now. The here and now of the seventy-one poems in Steven Schroeder’s new collection is most often Chicago, the Plains, or West Texas. The poems play on the imperfection of the eye, turning on the voice that can, with care, be heard over the noise at edges where silence slips into the “look!” or “listen!” trailing a flash of insight. These poems take place in time, as all embodied things must do, and place is precisely what the imperfection of the eye sings, celebrating “the sacrament / of a city of solitaries marking time,” listening for a rainbow where “fragments fall / on silence broken.” | order from an independent bookstore.
Fallen Prose. Virtual Artists Collective, 2006. isbn 9780977297412. China is the occasion, not the subject or the object, of the forty-seven poems collected in Steven Schroeder’s Fallen Prose — lyrical glimpses of the “new” city in Southern light. Most of the poems in the collection are set in Shenzhen, a few in Zhuhai, Macao, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong — and one or two a bit further west, in Kunming. All attend to “control out of control on every edge” and listen for flashes of music in these places that shed new light on all the elsewheres where we keep on making cities that somehow manage to sing. | order from an independent bookstore.
Touching Philosophy, Sounding Religion, Placing Education. Amsterdam: Editions Rodopi, 2002. isbn 9789042011632. This book redefines religious studies as a field in which a plurality of disciplines interact. A social science when understood as a body of knowledge, religion is also marked by discovery, appreciation, orientation, and application — an interplay of the arts and sciences. Teaching religious studies involves the question of the occupation of territories and disentangling occupation from violence. | order from the publisher.
Between Freedom and Necessity: An Essay on the Place of Value. Amsterdam: Editions Rodopi, 2000. isbn 9789042013025. This extended essay joins an old conversation at the intersection of freedom and necessity. Though it takes place at the beginning of the twenty-first century by the “Christian” reckoning that has become an integral part of European identity, it will at times read like a conversation between classical Greece and nineteenth-century Europe. The cast consists of characters drawn from Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Plato as well as the authors themselves — Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Hume, Kant, Kierkegaard, MacIntyre, and Nussbaum. Some of these writers have been associated with displaced, displacing claims of universality; but each is in place and in time in ways that are instructive for ethics. Myth, the matter of stories, becomes also the matter of critical reflection, which in turn is subjected to critical reflection. Every fragment of philosophy is a contribution to the reflection, and it is nothing if it is separated from the matter — the stories, the myths, and the characters (including us) who both make them and live in them. | order from the publisher.
The Metaphysics of Cooperation: A Study of F.D. Maurice. Amsterdam: Editions Rodopi, 1999. isbn 9789042007765. This book takes up the philosophical task described by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and F.D. Maurice as digging toward the common humanity that is the ground of value. The book is an essay in philosophy defined by time (its focal point is the nineteenth century), space (its focal point is Britain), and persons (it is concerned especially with Maurice's contribution to social theory). The first chapter explores the Victorian Age as historical context and background for Maurice's work. The second explores Coleridge's thought as philosophical context and background. The third explores a range of Maurice's theological works that spans his entire career. The fourth turns, finally, as Maurice did, to the practice of adult education as the place of social transformation and, more particularly, the contested terrain where "human nature" and human souls are turned to work in the world as persons, not hands. | “Schroeder … makes his point on today’s relationship between intelligentsia and workers brilliantly … this book is a most pertinent and challenging study and a laudable attempt in philosophy to get things ‘back on track’.” The Heythrop Journal, April 2002, Vol. 43, Nr. 2 | order from the publisher.
A few of the books are limited editions that don't have isbns, and I do have copies of some of the others on hand. To order books directly from me, send me an email with your shipping address and a list of title(s) you'd like to order. I'll send an invoice with a link you can use to pay via paypal (and instructions on how to pay by check if you prefer).
still (2015). "Steven Schroeder's most recent collection of poems, Still, offers an amazing juxtaposition of imaginary elements and sensible phenomena that keeps the reader turning page after page in wonder. Poems of varied textures, from Zen-like shorts to lengthier narratives, offer shifts in perspective that surprise and delight, many with seasonal beauty or the natural world described in sparse but vivid detail, others with religious or political overtones that avoid pedantry but challenge the reader to think far beyond the page. Schroeder's ability to interweave many of the above themes is apparent especially towards the end of the book, in poems such as "bellum omnium contra omnes," in which Rachel Carson's prophetic words of the decades-old environmental classic Silent Spring meet those of Rabbi Hillel, Thomas Hobbes, Oprah, and "Chinese friends of a certain age," ending with echoes of Yeats. Who can resist? This collection is the best of Schroeder's impressive oeuvre." —Donna Pucciani
dispersed cities is a digitally printed limited edition of twelve poems and sixty-two full color images published to coincide with the exhibition "Dispersed Cities" at the Paper Crane gallery in Canyon, Texas, March 14 to April 15, 2015.
A Water Planet (2014) is a bilingual (Chinese-English) collection of forty-five lyric poems, some previously published, some new, all newly translated by Song Zijiang, Sou Vai Keng, and Vai Si. From Flying Island Books/ASM in Macao.
mind the gaps: fragments (2014) is a digitally printed limited edition of six fragments, four of which are poems that begin with my translations from early Greek thinking (works of Heraclitus, Parmenides, Sappho, and Empedocles). The fifth includes a poem based on my translation of a story included in Plato's Phaedrus and a hybrid piece built around Plato's Parmenides. The sixth fragment (again, a hybrid) is an imagined correspondence between Isaac Newton and Anne Viscountess Conway. One key strand of my work as an artist and as a scholar grows out of a fascination with the central place of fragments in the invention of “the West,” which, it seems to me, has often taken the form of putting fragments in their place and filling in gaps. I am interested in minding the gaps, and this collection is part of a larger project in which I set out to do just that. [This program partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.].
we're open, come in (2014) is a digitally printed limited edition of twenty-three poems that begins on Sixth Street in Amarillo, Texas, and ends with a dream in Chicago. Poems perch among purple Flags in Wichita Falls, in the aftermath of a blizzard in Amarillo, on stone grids in southern China, on streets and balconies in Chicago, and on a variety of points in between – a sort of memoir, I suppose, since that more or less parallels perchings in my flight.