Jacob Polley, Jackself

Jacob Polley Jackself

Winner of the TS Eliot award in 2016, this is Polley’s fourth collection. It’s unsettling from the opening poem ‘The House that Jack Built’, a poem that focuses on destruction. We see time pass through the lifespan of timber – despite how much manipulation humans exert on the wood, it lasts. It’s unnerving to be reminded of our mortality in the opening poem, but that’s what Jackself is all about.

There’s a definite sense of journey in the collection as we follow young Jackself and his friend Jeremy Wren in their journey to adulthood in rural Northern England. The sense of unease deepens as the collection unfolds, caused in part by the injection of haunting nursery characters but also the sense of pervading grimness of the surroundings. Everything feels dark and dank and depressing. The use of Cumbrian dialect in places feels otherworldly, another way Polley leaves us feeling out-of-kilter. There’s also a playfulness in parts with the boys’ childish antics and language. Somehow this makes it seem even more sinister.

An interesting read, with some very skilful writing. Unexpected, and unsettling.

Published by nicolaheaney

I'm a poet based in Bristol via Derry, St Andrews and Madrid. When I'm not writing or performing my own poetry, I'm reading or trotting about with my camera. There is sometimes drink taken.

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Wood Bee Poet

Poems, thoughts...etc.

The Pledge

Fired! Irish Women Poets and the Canon

Nicola Heaney

Writer & Poet


'She would say to discover / the true depth of a well, / drop a stone, / start counting.' - Andrew Greig

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