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Reading “Reprieve” by Jenny George



Poetry Lunch S1E10

Reading “Reprieve” by Jenny George from The Dream of Reason, published by Copper Canyon Press.


“Reprieve” is a poem I come to again and again, like that line about arriving at one’s self. I wonder about what that means but I feel it deeply. I know the feeling of being outside of myself, ungrounded, spaced, anxious to varying degrees and spun out on too many possibilities.

It’s hard to remember to pause. It’s hard to remember anything, period.

The things that bring me back are simple, like in this poem. Observing an animal. A moment of sun. A cup on the table. There’s an acknowledgment of imperfection amidst perfect presence that soothes me and brings me back into myself.

The mountains of course bring me back, when I can get out to them. But so does any small witness of the natural world. I started buying flowers the last couple years. I used to think cut flowers were wasteful and dumb but now I love them all the more for their flash of abundance, come and gone so quick. Also I have two gardens, one at my shop and one at home, and a third one may enter my life soon — I plant them knowing it’s more than I’ll have time to tend, and I add boxes and new varieties of things I’ve no idea about just because I couldn’t resist the descriptive copy on the seed package. I love seed packages.

Whatever brings you reprieve, I hope you find it today and welcome more if it always.


Related print

I had the great fortune to read The Dream of Reason before it was a book, thanks to a pdf share from Michael Wiegers at Copper Canyon. This poem stood out immediately. I could not get it out of my head and knew I'd need to print it.

The type is Caslon and the paper is French Speckletone. The yellow is inspired by the way the sun slants in on my own kitchen table, upon which there are, often, many cups left out. It's printed from a simple linocut, not even carved but just trimmed into a triangle and actually printed off two edges of the paper, and trimmed on one. A technically tricky thing to do and not necessarily recommended, but I felt comfortable and unprecious about the linoleum. 

There aren't a ton of copies left of this edition, if it moves you I'd love to send you one. Perhaps for your own kitchen, or the kitchen of someone you love.


Links to purchase

Get the book here: The Dream of Reason and the print here: Reprieve.