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Little Gods [Paperback]

Jacob Polley
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
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Book Description

1 Dec 2006

While Jacob Polley's first collection, The Brink, announced a poet of great promise, few readers will be prepared for a work of the mature and slow power of Little Gods. Polley has been guided more and more by old-fashioned lyric inspiration of the sort all too rare in contemporary English poetry. In the quiet, insistent chants of his love poems and in his almost occult conjurings of time and place, Polley achieves both a directness of expression and unsentimental intimacy of address that only a poet of very considerable gifts could even attempt. Little Gods unequivocally announces Polley as one of the leading British poets of his generation.

Praise for The Brink:

'The kind of poetry that imbues the everyday, the tarnished and burnished, with the possibilities of the transcendent' Guardian

'A sparkling collection of crystalline poems, succinct in their observation, precise in their form' The Times

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Product details

  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; First Edition edition (1 Dec 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330444204
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330444200
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 522,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Polley's talent extends promisingly into new areas.' -- Sunday Times

'The best reason to keep reading Polley may be his ear, his gift simply for putting words next to one another.' -- TLS

From the Back Cover

Picador Poetry


While The Brink, Jacob Polley’s first collection, was widely praised for its complex music and imagistic brilliance, few readers will be prepared for the somewhat different voice that emerges from Little Gods. More and more, Polley has been guided by the sort of old-fashioned lyric inspiration that is all too rare in contemporary poetry. Through the quietly insistent chants of its love poems and almost occult conjurings of place and time, through its brave directness of speech and unsentimental intimacy of address, Little Gods builds into the kind of sheerly memorable statement only a poet of very considerable gifts could forge.

'The kind of poetry that imbues the everyday, the tarnished and burnished, with the possibilities of the transcendent' Guardian

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dirty Pastoral 17 Jan 2007
We've all heard of 'dirty realism'. Jacob Polley goes in for that drab, soggy, sordid species of pastoral perhaps best exemplified by the wonderful Sean O'Brien. (In fact, it's as much to do with urban and suburban life as it is to do with the countryside . . .) Sorry to disagree with one of your other reviewers, but this has very little in common with the poetry of Ted Hughes (to make such a comparison is to miss the point). The best things about these really most impressive poems are their astonishing musicality (the use both of end-rhyme and internal rhyme is masterly, and the rhythms are precisely calculated), the originality of their phrasing, and their sureness of tone. So far as the latter is concerned, Polley creates a variety of characters, all of them marginal (Sally Somewhere seems to be an elderly relative who's 'lost it' in both a literal and metaphorical sense, the 'boy in the byre' is one of those tatterdemalion young Tom o' Bedlams that haunt English literature from King Lear to Bleak House, and the 'You' in the astonishingly confident poem with that as its title is a sort of modern John Clare, homeless and on the run . . .): what's quite dazzling is his blend of the literary and the demotic in the language he deploys to bring them to life. One moment we encounter wholly idiosyncratic collocations like 'the lumpy, guileless country', and the next we're having our noses rubbed in gritty contemporary slang like 'scranning' (which I loved at first sight, but which I still had to look up in the 'Urban Dictionary' [[...] to be sure that I'd fully understood it). Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars atmospheric and evocative 19 July 2007
I will admit to not being a very regular poetry reader, and it is somewhat difficult for me to find poetry that really grabs me. This is one collection that manages to do just that, and being from Carlisle (as is the author) I recognise many of the places described or referred to, and the poems really hauntingly bring the places to mind. There is something of the ghostliness of childhood remembered.
I have also had the pleasure of hearing Jacob read in person and that was a really lovely and moving event. I especially recommend 'Brew', which is so lovely, moving and also very cleverly done. Please excuse my abysmally unpoetic language in commenting on this work of art!!
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars leaf by leaf the trees go blind 4 Nov 2006
This is an astounding book. From the first poem 'The Owls' it becomes clear that Jacob Polley has fulfilled the promise attributed to him by so many critics following the widely acclaimed 'The Brink'.

The collection covers so many themes, places and ways of seeing, yet ultimately feels like a consistent collection of poems made to be together. Between (and within poems) there feels to be a sense of being fully grounded in the countryside or say a town at dusk and yet somehow also a sense of something more, something even more powerful or transcendent that can't or doesn't need to be tied down or labelled.

Personally I haven't read a poem as good as 'Decree' in a long long time. But so much of this work stays with the reader long after the book has been put down: both in terms of images ('from the top bar of a five-bar gate hangs/the green world stilled in a water seed' from Rain) to the rhythm (of You `You avoiding main roads. You warming your hands on a cow./ You on the outskirts, an industrial estate/where the kerbs are high and the corrugated sheds/ hum and grind as their arc-lit interiors swing.' And most of all the contained sensitivity of the emotions here; the almost unspoken pleading love of `Brew', the masked self of "Decree' or the bereft lover fearing what he may become (Telephone').

This is an extremely ambitious and powerful set of poems, being both highly complex yet also accessible. It has a sense of permanence about it, the kind of collection that people will be drawn back to time and again...
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Occasionally lovely, fundamentally safe 6 Dec 2006
By Andrea
This is not a significant leap forward from The Brink, despite what the reviews are claiming. Nonetheless, Polley shows us again that he is one of the finest practitioners in the UK of faultlessly-formed pastoral poetry. He inherits from the edgier Don Paterson in this precision, as well as the equivalent Irish generation. But, as with The Brink, Little Gods owes its greatest debt to Ted Hughes. The problem with this particular inheritance is that Polley does not have the charge and power of Hughes. He continuously fails to invoke nature in a way that has the depth and magnetism which elevated Hughes to his spine-tingling best. If you like your poetry beautifully carved and comfortable, then Polley is your safest bet. But if you want the real thing, go and buy Ted Hughes' Crow, Wodwo, or Lupercal. This pales in comparison.
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