… like citrus in winter …
I had to keep putting the book down. Is that a weird thing to say? Does anyone else do that? Again and again, I would come across a phrase or an image, that was so arresting and intense that, like sharp grapefruit, I was compelled to stop and savour before reading on. Jacob himself talks of “a glimpse of something” in The Guardian‘s series My Writing Day; and it is these glimpses that the judges of the TS Eliot Prize hint at when they describe the collection as “a firework of a book”.
The images are embedded in a playful, shadowy autobiography of Jack, and his many selves, set in a mythic Cumbrian border country called Lamanby. Jack and his mate, Jeremy Wren, banter and fool about through 34 poems. Their casual brutality and grimy surroundings, mixed with nursery rhymes and folklore, put me in mind of the wonderful Rooster in Jez Butterworth‘s play, Jerusalem.
If you buy only one book of poetry this year, it really should be this one. Highly recommended.
Jacob Polley was born in Carlisle, Cumbria. He is the author of four books of poems and a novel, Talk of the Town. He teaches at the University of Newcastle where lives.
Cover design moment: The very arresting puppet cut-out design was inspired by a Franz-Josef Holler design called “Jockey” and presumably comes out of the PanMacmillan Art Department. I am still trying to find out. Update : I have traced the designer. If you are interested, click for later post.
This book is the fifth review in my British Books Challenge 2017. Come and join us at over at Chelley Toy’s site.