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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Our kings' bones
It is not often you come across a book of poetry you want to put in the pocket of whatever coat you are wearing and carry around with you, but The Brink has to be one of those books. Its contents seem both familiar and strange, inventively modern and unassumingly traditional, powerfully alloyed.
The subject matters of the home, the family, and nature, are...
Published on 7 Dec 2003 by Erik M. Rosenwood

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Safe Bet
I find it easier to put my finger on what I like about this book than what I'm not so sure.
Yes, I love the textures of the language, the music of these bare-bones poems of lansdcape, home and the outside elements. Polley makes strange wonderfully, and he has a fine ear. There is a confidence at work here - the writer has a clear feel for his territory and he writes...
Published on 16 Jan 2004


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Safe Bet, 16 Jan 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Brink (Paperback)
I find it easier to put my finger on what I like about this book than what I'm not so sure.
Yes, I love the textures of the language, the music of these bare-bones poems of lansdcape, home and the outside elements. Polley makes strange wonderfully, and he has a fine ear. There is a confidence at work here - the writer has a clear feel for his territory and he writes out of that feel. The simplicity of this formula is winning and reassuring.
Perhaps it is also part of what leaves me feeling a little uncomfortable. Polley's subject matter - his range of reference - is conservative - he rarely pushes out from this terraine of nature, landscape, home, creatures. Also, the emotional spectrum of the poems is quite narrow and very controlled. The writer is rarely turned upside down by his subject matter - it seems to come from a comfort zone now too famillar in poetry. It is a poetry of calm amazement - held breath and wide eyed wonder. It isn't shallow or superficial, but it rarely courts disturbance or interrogates itself. Perhaps this will change as the poet gets older and he develops more courage to explore, both internally and externally. I hope market forces or the temptation to be popular don't contribute to limiting this talented poet's growth.
My biggest gripe is with the blurb. Do Picador need to keep telling us who the 'best new writers' are? Jacob Polley is the best thing, snce, well, Paul Farley, who is, well, another Picador poet. Please, let us make up our own minds. We don't need to be preached at to be converted. We don't all need league tables.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Our kings' bones, 7 Dec 2003
This review is from: The Brink (Paperback)
It is not often you come across a book of poetry you want to put in the pocket of whatever coat you are wearing and carry around with you, but The Brink has to be one of those books. Its contents seem both familiar and strange, inventively modern and unassumingly traditional, powerfully alloyed.
The subject matters of the home, the family, and nature, are re-evaluated and re-dressed in a way you never suspected was possible but can fully appreciate as it occurs. The ordinary is often extraordinarily seen, considered, and presented by the poet - a crow is reincarnated as Cain's murderous gloves, and a father, aware that his life is changing, suddenly feels compelled to use his diaries for kindling in his daily ritual of lighting the fire. Dually, unimaginable concepts, like the drowning of Britain by floods and the exploration of its new underwater geography, are portrayed casually and convincingly. The language of the book seems to possess a peculiar northern austerity and a minimalism, describing the relics of human existence and the basic anatomy of the environment - the extreme edges of things - but it also has vivid blood, it's muscular and original and frequently it 'sings' to you, so that each structure of words is charged with energy and fleshed into life, whereupon it captivates you with its voice. History is borrowed and continues on. The past is unearthed and made relevent and fascinating. In his poem 'Salvage' the poet describes a house built from ship's timber, still haunted by the spirit of that first maritime identity. There is an inescapable sense throughout the collection that Jacob Polley is capable of some kind of radical archeology and animation. And the site for this work is a remarkable territory where both poetry-lovers and those unaccustomed to or even afraid of the medium can meet with satisfaction.
This is a beautiful book, a slender volume, the perfect size to keep on your person after it has been discovered. But once it has been read you will wonder just how it fits so neatly inside that pocket exactly, because the words are colossal and vital and they resonate long after the pages have been closed. Find it, buy it, carry it around.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beautifully crafted, 19 July 2007
This review is from: The Brink (Paperback)
This collection is truly beautiful, and as is evident from the other reviews, beauty is often in the eye of the beholder (it seems some poetry reviewers have some particular axe to grind). This collection is different from the poetry that I have read before, and they are delightful bursts of art and spirit to be savoured.

I would highly recommend purchasing this volume and finding a live reading by the author to attend! I have had the pleasure of hearing Jacob read in person and I thoroughly enjoyed the event.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Have no doubts, this is the real deal, 12 Jan 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Brink (Paperback)
Thank goodness for a debut poetry collection that isn't trying to prove itself so desperately that it's leaking clever-cleverness from every seam. The Brink is a small but nigh-perfectly formed group of deceptively quiet poems that have that all-important power to linger in the mind long after reading.
There are pieces you might call 'nature poems', for want of a better description, but in Jacob Polley's world, nature is no passive backdrop or two-dimensional prettification: it's a living, breathing, awkward, stealthy presence which constantly threatens to tip into the human world in a distinctly un-natural way. Again and again the inanimate becomes dynamic, even anthropomorphized: In 'Salvage' a house becomes a skeleton; in 'The Boast' snow 'crushes', 'buries', and 'blasts' everything it touches. And in 'The Snag', a tender love poem, nature is left stuttering and stalling in the wake of a person even more impressive.
'Declaration' is a fantastic poem that somehow seems written by a much older poet - wise, assured, dealing with the big stuff in the best way, by looking at the details. 'Saturday Matinee' and 'Snow' are examples of the kind of poem which will change the way you'll see things around you forever. After reading Polley's spot-on, just-right descriptions of the experiences of sitting in a cinema waiting for a film to start, and of looking up at falling snow, I can't imagine experiencing those things without calling those words back to mind.
This kind of freshness (without the souring taint of cleverness) doesn't come around that often. Buy this book straightaway, and buy it for your friends. You won't regret it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A playful observer among knitted poet brows, 11 Oct 2004
This review is from: The Brink (Paperback)
The most impressive quality of this collection is its playful quality which in no way sacrifices the weight of meaning and description. In this, Polley has perhaps bridged a gap that has widened in recent years between the melancholic academics and
the humorists of British poetry. Naturalistic accuracy (his father squeezing together worn down soap bars)can sit with impunity beside adventurous metaphor used. The personification of many of a house's parts for instance in 'Moving House' is beauteous in its absurdity but strikes deep into the heart of a culture so entangled with the business of securing and relinquishing property. I like Polley's wryly romantic image of the pioneer carving his new house out beneath the stars - an impossible dream for many, foolhardy even. Playful but wise.
Another great moment in the book is the snow poem. Brian Mccabe and Robert Frost have hitherto done masterful justice to this substance but the poet's descriptive powers here are on a par with Hughes.
If there is to be any iota of humbug it could perhaps be directed gently at Polley's avoidance of the darker sides of life so dear to many of his contemporaries, wittily acerbic Simon Armitage and the poet laureate to mention two. England drowning and becoming populated by fish has a somewhat Disneyfied gloss on it although it is also a good poem. Forget it! Jacob Polley is a rousing magician of metaphor. - Sean Cartwright
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Watery, 17 Dec 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Brink (Paperback)
The 'mature talent' referred to on the back cover blurb would be better put as 'sure-footed' maybe, in that it's difficult to quibble with any of the wording. The reins are held firmly in, the turns are secure, I followed every page happily until the end of the course. It's very readable ..... there's an attractive transparency to it. Like a watercolour, I guess ...there's the sense of a swift finesse about it all, as opposed to a re-worked thickening of oils.
I can see why it's generating a good deal of goodwill .....the subjects are mainly picturesque-pastoral or homely .. even though the home is being dismantled in most cases, the images are familiar, known, shared, comforting. In the pastoral, nature is..... interesting, subject to a spot of poetic inspection. I suppose, then, the book's overseer is Seamus Heaney.
Words like gentile, generous, ruminative spring to mind. There's an equanimity to it. For 'sure-footed', I'd add 'unruffled' ......and perhaps 'processed', as in fish, or in the creative act. By which I mean that there's little of the writer's ego in evidence (until the final poem, maybe).
Now, this may be a good thing, depending on your taste. It's clean, orderly ..... a space into which we can project our sympathies without too much difficulty. There's nothing here which would define any kind of generation gap, for example. Polley could be fifty-eight and still sound the same, somehow.
For these reasons, I enjoyed it. For the same reasons, I wasn't hooked by it. It's transparency became a kind of bloodlessness. I didn't lock on to a specific sense of place, either. With the possible exception of 'Snow', the backdrop could've been Brighton or any seaside town. The settings were local, but the locality was never rooted.
It's as radical as the 'new' Radio 2, in other words. Young stuff the old folks can swallow. And for that reason it'll sell by the bucketload. A coastal Billy Collins, anyone?
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8 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Strange Case of the Pale Imitations, 20 Feb 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Brink (Paperback)
I am incredulous at the piffle written in the other reviews of this insipid book on this site. Someone even cites Poley as comparable to Billy Collins!
Open it - read the first poem 'Honey'. Then go to Paul Farley's award-winning first volume 'The Boy from the Chemists is Here to See You' and read Farley's infinitely superior poem 'Treacle'. A blind man could spot the anxiety of influence.
Thus the tenor of Poley's book (and it would seem his entire oevre) is established: poems that are pale shadows of work by other poets on subjects about which much has already been better said.
Avoid.
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The Brink
The Brink by Jacob Polley (Paperback - 5 Dec 2003)
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