poem index

book

California

Publisher

Four Way Books

Year

2011

Type

Poetry Book
California by Jennifer Denrow

Jennifer Denrow's debut collection explores the way in which humans create their own realities as an antidote to a world that is, at times, lonely, stagnant, or unnavigable.

The narrators in this collection range from a woman fixated on California as a mythical promised land, to a ventriloquist and his dummy. Zachary Schomburg writes, "In Jennifer Denrow's California, California doesn't exist, so it devastates us." Indeed there is an awareness of the "real," but the speaker in these poems upholds imagination even when her dreams seem futile. In "California" Denrow writes, "I need to arrive at something." Later in the poem, she notes, "If California didn't exist, I'd still want to go there."

Another section of the book uses the sky as a source for meditating on impermanence. In one poem, Denrow declares, "Don’t worry. / If you're not fond / of the sky, there isn't one." Both dreamy and sharply psychological, Denrow's intelligent writing weaves humor into poems that are truly heartbreaking.


This book review originally appeared in American Poets, fall 2011, issue 41.

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