In this debut collection from the winner of the 2015 "Discovery" Boston Review Poetry Prize, the poet meditates on the death of humans and animals—with a focus on pigs—and captures surreal moments of perception.
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.