Over the last year or more it has been a great pleasure to highlight some new and talented creatives from the region. Some are young, others not so young. Poet Jacob Davies, however, definitely falls into the first category, at just 19 years of age, he has embarked on his first Northern tour.
Jacob first came to my attention earlier this year when he was looking for a venue to launch, not his first, but the second anthology of his work, Every Night is November. Remarkably self-assured for his age, I met up with him in a busy coffee shop on the eve of his first tour dates.
I started by asking how he first got into writing poetry. His answer was not quite what I expected as he explained that whilst he had always enjoyed reading poetry much of his early interest was because of his love of music and the strong lyrics of songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Morrissey and Joni Mitchell that had been some of his formative influences.
Something real and raw
From the age of nine or ten, he began to express himself and his thoughts through writing in a format that reflected his musical tastes. His influences from the world of literature were mainly Oscar Wilde, Christina Rosetti, Blake, and Wordsworth as well as the beat poets such as Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac:
“Their work always appealed to me because you feel like you have found something different from what I saw when I looked out the window… something that was often very real, and raw.
“Other writers such as Emily Bronte and Wuthering Heights – I absolutely adore that book because it is raw and it’s animalistic and it feels real and authentic, whereas if you listen to today’s pop music it often feels quite shallow. I don’t want that, I wanted to read something interesting, something that brought something out of me.”
Jacob explained that the main inspiration for his work comes from the places and people who he encounters, his reaction and response to society and life in general; the everyday occurrences that we take for granted even though they often impact us emotionally.
One of his favourite poems is titled Henry’s Hands. It is about the fragility and often painful nature of time.
Henry’s Hands spread the disease of lingering broken hearts
Henry’s hands draw them apart
They live in the nauseating middle ground
Controlling the people, you’ve seen around
“This is how I feel about life. It sounds quite deep, and it is an odd thing to say aloud but it is the case.”
Authentic, truthful, liberating
There are a lot of characters in Jacob’s work, many of them people that he has met and wants to explore more through his writing. He almost fictionalises real people, turning them into something creative.
“It is loads of things. I write a lot about Yorkshire and its surroundings. I like to write about the little things that I see such as the way a street light street might look, or the way nature looks.”
I asked Jacob if he considers his poetry dark, with much of sombre in nature:
“I’ve certainly been told so, yes. When people discover my stuff for the first time and especially when they hear me read it before they have read it, people are a bit like whoa, you know? It is a little bit dark, and I do face criticism for it, but I would not want to do it if I was not being authentic and speaking truth. If I am honest, I don’t think I could do it if it wasn’t that way.”
“I do not think that my work is especially dark. It is just raw and true, and I think I’m sometimes saying things that a lot of people are thinking but do not say. I am quite a private and quiet person in a lot of ways and going up on stage and performing my poetry allows me to say what I am thinking. This feeling is so liberating. It is important to me because it gives me an escape – it gives me freedom.”
A genuine response to life
There are moments of real humour and of hope in his work such as in Have You Met Jenny? – a humorous ballad-type piece about finding unfamiliar places and people and leaving the old ones behind.
With dreams and ambitions
Haircuts and wishes
And wonky satellite dishes.
Jacob summed up his poetry by saying that it is his genuine response to life.
“Obviously, there are influences from places and people around me, but they are through my lens although I like to change that lens and look at things in a unique way.”
The poetry is very much written to be performed rather than just to be read. Jacob’s performance is very much part of that. When we spoke, he was really looking forward to the start of the tour.
Remaining dates are:
Tuesday 13 December – The Creaky Floorboard, Derby
Thursday 15 December – Rogerthorpe Manor, Pontefract
Saturday 17 December – Opium number 10, Barnsley
Monday 19 December – Brickhouse Social, Manchester
Catch this young and up-and-coming writer if you can, he is a talent well worth hearing and indeed reading.