Poem by Jacob Polley

Eyewear is very glad to feature the work of Jacob Polley (pictured) this Friday. Polley's first book, The Brink (Picador, 2003) was a Poetry Book Society Choice and shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. It was one of the best books of its year and excited me, particularly with its marvellous command of image and metaphor.

His second collection, Little Gods, was published in December, 2006. This, from which the poem below is taken, is a remarkable book, delightfully (at times frighteningly) focused in theme and tone, with more than a whiff of the late 50s, early 60s, to its occult, enriched post-war diction, as if Hughes and Gunn were writing poems about rain, witches, love, channeling Keith Douglas on the Ouija board.

It's a superb book, a haunted one, and one of the ghosts is decadent French poetry, too. It redeems, in some ways, the tedious normalcy of some recent British poetry. This is work of great ambition, and, more significantly, atmosphere.

Polley was born in Carlisle in 1975, where he still lives, but is currently the Visiting Fellow in the Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge. He read for the Oxfam Poetry Series in London a few weeks ago, and the audience was rapt. The poem below is one of my three favourite from the new collection.


Now there is only the sound of the rain
which is the shape of the streets and the ropes
of overflow knitting at the mouths of drains
and fraying from the gutters and downpipes.

Whatever the leaves were saying must wait:
rain has filled the trees with its own brisk word.
There’s thunder in the darkened slates.
The pond’s green eye rolls heavenwards.

You can’t charge a page with the hiss, with this
cooling of the city like a new horseshoe.
Rain in the hair, at the neck and the wrists:
for rich and poor, there’s rain to hurry through.

The boil and spit of pavements: mirrored brick.
Every patch of grass is fiercely lit.

poem by Jacob Polley; reprinted from his new collection, Little Gods (Picador, 2006), with permission of the author.

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