The Choice Is Real

By Salena Wiener

A review of The Choice Is Real by Jayson Keery

Published on July 5, 2023

Jayson Keery’s collection is weird, experimental, captivating. It is a reimagining of the traditional coming-of-age narrative for queer and trans people. Taking up Disney films and other media which function as symbolic systems that program gender in children and youth, Keery poetically reinvents these narratives from a transmasculine perspective. 

What to make of “girlhood” from the perspective of a trans man? Keery’s speaker describes familial moments as they come into their transness. Sitting with his father at the dinner table. Conversations with his grandmother.

The Choice Is Real
Jayson Keery

Metatron Press

We did women’s work together and 

talked women’s talk.  People forget 

I’ve done women’s work.   And I’ve

talked. You    said,          “I’ve been

Believing men my whole life.”  And 

it made you mad. I listened. 

The speaker takes up fairytale narratives like The Little Mermaid and Pinocchio to interrogate femininity, girlhood, gender roles, sexuality, and transness. What do children learn about gender roles and sexuality when they hear the classic Little Mermaid tune? Poetically rerendered by Keery, “Now is your moment / She won’t say a word / You want to kiss her.” In “The Cost of Acting,” Keery insists on an attention to the body in Pinocchio

The French, Dutch and Russian puppets

who have cut their strings for you

lie limp on the bed.

Wooden breasts carved

In continual heave.

So now you got to breathe.

Was it worth it? Real boy. 

Pinocchio becomes a trans boy, his body a carved thing seeking breath, desiring to become a real boy.

At every moment Keery’s poetics are inventive, gripping, perspective-shifting. The collection takes the reader on a journey through a media landscape ripe for reinterpretation from a queer and trans perspective.mRb

Salena Wiener is a poet and incoming PhD student in English Literature at Simon Fraser University, focusing on Romantic women’s writing, female sexuality, and ecology. She is the author of bodies like gardens (Cactus Press, 2023).



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