Jack-be-Nimble, Jack-of-all-trades, Jackdaw, Jack-O-Lantern, Jack Sprat, Cheapjack & Jack Frost – Jackself, deserving winner of the TS Eliot prize, looks at childhood through an English lens; through nursery rhymes, riddles and cautionary tales.
Jackself is outstanding. Each poem full of surprise, wit, danger, ambivalence and wicked word-play, demonstrating Polley’s mastery of form and tone.
Darkly humorous, fantastical, playful and terrifying, Jackself is a mesmeric exploration of the casual cruelty of childhood and of lost innocence. The poems crackle with spice, with energy and intelligence, they have an extraordinary music, earthy, unnerving, uncanny. Read it, savour it, be disturbed, be amused.
“We’re all handling the same material over and over again… we just have to find ways to revolve our lens or the gemstone we’re looking through to find different facets of this same material”. The self is at the root of all his work he adds: “but maybe the best work springs from the tension between self-expression and a concealment of the self, or running the self through a magic lantern and seeing what comes through the other side.”
Jacob Polley talking to Kayo Chingonyi in a The Poetry Review podcast