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Showing posts from February, 2013

Review: Jacob Polley's The Havocs

"Who says havoc is a vice of the young?" asks the speaker in the title poem of Jacob Polley's third collection, The Havocs. You'd be hard pushed to level the accusation at Polley, whose commitment to the nightmarish, creepy and unstable has intensified with each of his books, and tends to feed his best poems.

Polley's first collection, The Brink (2003), published while he was still in his 20s, was notable for a pared-back diction and descriptive flair. Its colloquial patter in poems of postmodern pastoral, father figures and secular spiritualism saw Polley combine the influence of Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes and Simon Armitage in approaching his own vision. But the book also zoned in on nature's chaos and human malevolence. Here was a crow conjured from the biblical tale of Cain's murder of Abel, or the "floating knuckle" of honeycomb in a jar, "attesting to the nature of the struggle". A second volume, Little Gods (2006), gave this sup…