Shifting Baseline Syndrome

Shifting Baseline Syndrome - poems by Aaron Kreuter

Shifting Baseline Syndrome is a searching and searing collection of poems, veering between history and prophecy, satire and sincerity, acid trips in portapotties and odes to South Florida. The TV remote is never far. Awe at our human and non-human world clashes ecstatically with loathing for those who destroy it. Histories geological, hydrological, and Jewish loom. Whether loudly political or quietly subversive, whether line broken or cascading across the page in exuberant paragraphs, Kreuter's poems declare the same nostalgia-shattering message: the way the world was when we were young is not how the world should be now.

Aaron Kreuter (he) is the author of the short story collection You and Me, Belonging (2018) and the poetry collection Arguments for Lawn Chairs (2016). He lives in Toronto, where he is assistant fiction editor at Pithead Chapel. Shifting Baseline Syndrome is his second book of poems.

Spring 2021 · Poetry · Trade paperback · Editor: Catriona Wright

Photo by Rick O'Brien

Praise for Shifting Baseline Syndrome

Catastrophists take heart. “Nature isn’t dying / it’s simply revising / its target audience,” writes Aaron Kreuter. Assured, savvy, a shade neurotic, he’s holding court as the party winds down. Galloping from Queens to the Walls of Jericho, from the MEC parking lot to the Marianas Trench, from Westeros to the Cheesecake Factory, Kreuter splices a loopy narrative for our age of context collapse. What’re you in the mood for? Dark comedy? Alien sci-fi? Biopic? Reality TV? Cozy up on the couch with the remarkable Shifting Baseline Syndrome. It’s binge-worthy.

—Matthew Tierney, author of Midday at the Super-Kamiokande

In Shifting Baseline Syndrome, everything is television: culture, the self, grief, memory, language, media and joy. And vice versa. The outside is inside, our inside is out. Movies, rivers, Florida, catastrophes, illness, grandparents, memory, cheesecake, forest fires. Let’s turn on the ontology channel, doomscroll the human, bingewatch some epistemology fails. An inventive supercut of astute surfing Aaron Kreuter’s poems surprise, move, intrigue and delight even as they take us deeper into the disimulacrum of our contemporary moment. These are poems bright as raytubes, big screens the size of lives.

—Gary Barwin, author of For It Is a Pleasure and a Surprise to Breathe: New & Selected Poems and Yiddish for Pirates (Scotiabank Giller Prize & Governor General Award finalist)

With a punk sensibility, Kreuter confronts the Anthropocene slantwise through X-Men and ancestry with biting humour, surprise, and tenderness. We discover primal interconnectedness, diasporic cousins, and the author’s radical Jewish ancestors over a pint and a piss. Shifting Baseline Syndrome is a book of poems to wake us up and rewild us.

—Shazia Hafiz Ramji, author of Port of Being