EVENT REVIEW: Jacob Polley: Lamanby

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14th October, 2018

Durham Town Hall

Review by Amy Strong 

Festival Poet Laureate, Jacob Polley, gave a beautiful performance of his piece Lamanby last Sunday – a wonderful medley of words, music and film, directed by Tess Denman-Cleaver. Every element came together flawlessly, eliciting a pleasantly bewildering wonder, melancholy and nostalgia. There were images, ranging from close–up wildflowers to an expansive view of the cosmos; subtle sound effects, and haunting guitar melodies. Polley’s use of language was as exquisite as always; the title of the piece itself was a collection of lilting consonants which evoked a whimsical atmosphere. 

Lamanby, based on the poems from Polley’s award-winning collection Jackself, is an intertextual and yet remarkably original work exploring childhood friendships, imagination, and grief. A dark and twisted story, with almost-pantomime moments and flashes of crude (but welcome) humour between two boys being boys, Lamanby is more than a ghost story or fairy tale. Nuanced emotion is brought into being by Polley’s stunning use of language, together with the film (produced by Ian Fenton), and the music (by John Alder). Together they perfectly captured the subtle magic of Cumberland: of hidden places, the beauty of childhood, and the pain which comes with the loss of innocence.

Lamanby is poetry and performance at its best – a celebration of various art forms, and their power to evoke the memories and emotions which make us human. 

This work was produced by participants on our Durham Book Festival Reviewers in Residence programme, a cultural journalism programme run by New Writing North Young Writers. Reviewers in Residence gives aspiring journalists aged 15-23 the chance to review books, attend events and interview authors at the Durham Book Festival. For more information about New Writing North Young Writers visit the New Writing North website.