Thursday, March 16, 2017

Jackself by Jacob Pooley - a short review - spoiler alert

When I came away from the T. S Eliot short list reading at the Royal Festival Hall in January this was the book I least expected to win. Alice Oswald seemed to me to me the front runner. So it took a little while for me to buy Jack Pooley's collection Jackself. Even once I'd bought it - in February, I reluctantly picked it up to read. And yes it took me a little while to get into this collection.

Perhaps I was put of by the cover - a dismembered paper cartoon puppet without a face. Or maybe the title. But whatever the reason. I struggled to begin with.

But it grew on me. Sometimes playful, sometimes dream like. At other times dark and disturbing. Jackself is a series of loosely linked poems about Jackself - Jacob Pooley's childhood in rural Cumbria.

There's a patchy narrative arc that begins with Jackself. Then poems about the friendship between Jackself and Jeremy Wren. They are adolescent, challenging, playful and disturbing in their behaviour, their conversations and their view of the world.

I enjoyed reading about rural and village life. It is descriptive and detailed. I enjoyed reading about  the boys friendship. It's both humorous and honest. The boys seem restless, adrift and without meaning. Except in their friendship. Sometimes. And yet I couldn't invest the poems with value. Perhaps that's down to Pooley writing from an adolescent perspective.  Maybe that is the nature of adolescence. 

But then Jeremy Wren dies. He commits suicide. I don't know why.  Pooley evokes a strong sense of loss and this is really powerful and moving? Is it? So I suppose I found the emotional distancing - not only with the death but throughout the collection - a struggle. I suppose I expected some kind of resolution, closure or healing. But there was none. That's not a weakness in the writing. It reveals my own immaturity as a reader and especially as a reader of contemporary poetry.

Oh well! Ho hum! I'll try and write a better review next time.   

No comments:

Post a Comment