Jenny George is ... more distant than is common in the craft. Emotions are there. it is just that they are kept carefully on the far side of her poems ... Her images, like 'Chime of spoon in sink,' are precise in their materiality, unadorned. They are more immediate than a record. They unload themselves in carefully measured syllables ... For all the asceticism, however, these poems have a surprising number of images, each patiently unfolded to reveal a fragile surprise ... All of this is not to say that The Dream of Reason is without its flaws ... There is no ferocious bad girl humor. Not the slightest hint of a glint in the eye. Nor is there the implication of courage except for the courage to simply be there, in the moment, receptacle with five senses.
The best poems in this frequently luminous collection are about pigs: as commodity, abused in factory farms, slaughterhouse-bound or already dead ... By contrast, George’s humans tend to be scenic elements; children are usually asleep or dead, therefore symbolic and undisruptive ... alluring, also vague and disconnected. George sometimes begins poems stronger than she ends them ... mere observation is a claim to innocence. Wholehearted embrace of complicity might be more interesting.
'Everything is restored,' says an early poem in this debut...but a creeping sense of unease upends the collection ... violence—a word that resurfaces throughout the collection ... Eerie and approachable; solid work from a rising poet.
The marvelous appears frequently ... The book really takes off in section I’s third poem 'Everything Is Restored.' The poem opens in a mundane environment of feeding a baby prunes, cleaning his mouth, and putting him to bed in his crib, and the marvelous enters as the child slips 'into the silvery minnows / of dreams, disorder of shine' ... The child’s death is wrapped in the beauty of 'silvery minnows' to which 'Harm will come.' It ruptures classical concepts of beauty ... The Dream of Reason does end on hope, though. After a winter turning into spring that is reminiscent of 'The Waste Land,' the speaker of the final poem, 'Easter,' realizes that the first part of a human to rise from the winter thaw is not the 'brain' or 'heart,' but 'the image.' It will most likely be a new marvelous image, as she begins another transformation, which I hope to read in her next collection of poems.
George’s shimmering, mystical, and incisive debut reaches into the ether of the human experience and illuminates the irrational nature of emotions ... She also displays a refreshing sense of humility given her enlightened vision ... George’s jewel of a collection acts as both a catalyst and antidote for philosophical ruminations, one that will keep readers asking themselves, 'The great event—has it already occurred?'