The Choice Is RealJayson Keery
Editor: Hannah Karpinski
Cover design: Ashley Obscura
Cover photo: Antonia Colodro
I wake up most mornings
to do what.
Dress my genitals for
occasion. What odd
twat cravat. A
Hanes which way.
Fruit of the looming
Will I bite.
Jayson Keery’s world-building poems reimagine the coming-of-age narrative for queer and trans people. Winner of The Metatron Prize for Rising Authors (Poetry), The Choice is Real is a romp through millennial media landscapes and an interrogation of their power as systems of early childhood gender programming.
Challenging the conventions of how queer and trans people are encouraged to tell their stories, The Choice is Real engages the concept of choice in queerness and trivializes the linear “born-this-way” narratives that queer people are sold. In response to a second puberty brought on by medical transition and an unravelling of family structures following the death of their stepmother, Keery regresses through a warped and foreboding childhood landscape saturated with pop culture iconography. Writing with and against Disney classics, Keery moves between formative memories and contemporary moments, weaving in accounts of current relations in their playful uprooting of assumptions of queer relationality. Opening with a cheeky epigraph from trans author and activist Lou Sullivan: “I love being a girl. So delicate,” The Choice is Real explodes with celebration and criticism of girlhood from a transmasculine perspective.
“A debut in name only, The Choice is Real is a testament to what utter magic can occur when a poet makes of the line an altar to study and quest from. Sure-footed, sorcerous and tender in its ferocity, this is one of the most impressive and unforgettable first books I’ve read in years.”
— Ocean Vuong, author of Time Is a Mother, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Night Sky With Exit Wounds, and more
“In myriad forms and with etched lines, this book is in a constant state of becoming. Jayson Keery is a truly exciting poet. What a great debut. The details are entirely real.”
— Peter Gizzi, author of Now It’s Dark, Sky Burial, Archeophonics, and more
“Occasioned by the loss of three mothers, Jayson Keery returns in these poems to the scenes of their girlhood, grappling with how it is that we, because of and despite everything, become. In particular, and against the pervasive, structuring idea that children have no bodies”—no desire, no right to choose their lives—The Choice Is Real insists on the queerness of childhood. Its strangeness. Its perversity. Its persistent deformation of Disney-scripted grids of gender. At once flippant and grief-struck, guarded and tender, heady and viscerally felt, Keery’s debut collection is a forceful reminder of the magic that happens wherever queer/trans children grow.”
— Cameron Awkward-Rich, author of The Terrible We, Dispatch, Sympathetic, Little Monster, and more
“Dedicated ‘to those forced to prove it,’ this is queer celebration! Jayson Keery is one of my favorite living poets, and I am so glad you found this book to celebrate its magnificent poetry!”
— CAConrad, author of You Don’t Have What It Takes to Be My Nemesis, Amanda Paradise, While Standing in Line for Death, and more
“I’m excited and in awe of how this book wields Keery’s marvelous talent.”
— Fariha Róisín, author of Who Is Wellness for?, Like a Bird and How to Cure a Ghost
Winner | The Metatron Prize for Rising Authors, 2021 – Poetry | Judged by Fariha Róisín
Jayson Keery is a writer, editor, and arts coordinator from Boston who currently resides in Western Massachusetts. They completed their MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. They are the author of The Choice is Real (Metatron Press, 2023) and the chapbook Astroturf (o•blēk editions, edited by Peter Gizzi, 2022). Their work is published and forthcoming in Hot Pink, Boulevard, Black Warrior Review, Overheard, The New Guard, b l u s h lit, Peach Mag, and others. They have been anthologized in Nightboat Books’ We Want It All: An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics and Pilot Press London’s A Queer Anthology of Rage. They are the recipient of the 2022 Metatron Press Prize for Rising Authors, selected by Fariha Róisín, and the 2021 Daniel and Merrily Glosband MFA Fellowship,selected by Wendy Xu. They were the runner-up for the Deborah Slosberg Memorial Award, selected by Diana Khoi Nguyen.