'EVERY NIGHT IS NOVEMBER' REVIEW - ANDREW O'BRIEN
Updated: May 16, 2022
‘Every Night is November’ is Jacob Davies’ second released collection of poetry. In his latest offering he is not only far more diverse, exposing and enlightening, but he is also far more revealing and asks far more questions of the reader.
‘Every Night is November’ is often intentionally uncomfortable and takes you unapologetically into the author’s world and journey, as he conveys to the reader how it feels. It is a collection that breaks the accepted norms and boundaries of poetry, but in this way, leaves you feeling enlightened and free.
It is a compilation to be consumed slowly and with due consideration. At times it is goosebump inducing in its honesty and revelations, like seeing the scars once the bandages of life have been ripped off. It is littered with recurring themes and couplets that jump back and forward in the mind and reappear when you might least expect it. Once left to sit on the mind’s palette, a greater realisation is stirred in the mind. Something deeper and more long lasting. The characters, their struggles and the killer lines stay with you. You’d rather not identify with the protagonists, but they and their struggles are uncomfortably familiar.
The joy of this collection is in its carefully crafted form, order and depth. The onwards linkage between pieces is by no means accidental and as familiarity is built, so is the discomfort. Davies utilises his poetic devices in a truly unique way. He is bold, and perhaps at times, pioneering. He intends to make you uncomfortable, but that discomfort is yours, not his.
Davies writes with a laser sharp pen and sometimes the ink feels like his own blood, given his clear and deep personal investment into his work. His offering is a mirror, not a picture. He probes away at what you would rather forget. Nothing is left to the imagination and yet everything is left to the imagination. His clever use of storytelling, alliteration, repetition and vivid imagery invoke often conflicting emotions. The reader is always left with something.
"He is bold, and perhaps at times, pioneering"
The longer poems such as ‘The morning came and everyone was gone’ remain concise. Not a word is wasted as themes build and the narrative reveals itself like a downhill slalom. The rhyme scheme in ‘Henry’s Hands’, with its thinly veiled disguise, hits hard and there is no shadow around the corner, just a stark message staring you straight in the face. Davies is an old soul trapped in the modern day and this is never clearer than in ‘Dearest’ as it offers the reader options, choices even. It harks back to a poetic voice of centuries ago but is set in the now.
‘She died on stage’ offers an inevitability of a course of action. We are bystanders, we might want to save, but we cannot. This is Davies at his most pure and unforgiving as he reminds us of our general helplessness and apathy or indeed our choice of apathy and of just choosing to look away.
‘Nebula’ is a hidden gem, perhaps the highlight of the book, and worthy of the cover price on its own. The form and the story hit the mark perfectly. Its opening line ‘I fall to the floor with Irish violins and featherweight guitars’ is genius and the piece is as unrelenting as it is quick, leaving you breathless and dizzy as it drags you along at pace.
The text poses so many questions of how we can, do and should go about our lives. It challenges the status quo and asks repeatedly for us to consider what we are doing and how we got to where we are both individually and as a society. The words open up the questions we’d rather ignore, but all we know exists. He removes the veneer of transactional life and behaviour like a writer ripping away the sticking plaster of society or someone pushing against a door he knows to be already open. He pokes at what it is we think about and what it is we don’t. The text often questions the point, relays that very same point and then evaluates and obliterates what we know, deep down, is simply not true. Never more is this apparent than within ‘Maybe I am dead’.
"He removes the veneer of transactional life and behaviour like a writer ripping away the sticking plaster of society"
Davies does not write like a man and offers no ego nor masculinity on any piece. His neutrality is brilliance as it never hints at disinterest nor weakness; only poignant sadness, whilst offering just the odd ray of hope as it forces its way through scarce cracks.
‘When I saw you in a Prada jumper’ propositions sadness and humour in equal measure. The words implore you to chant to a rhythm in your head and only as you reach its closing stages do you know what you have just experienced. ‘Pendulum Swings’ again harks back to Sitwell, as, just as the title suggests, you are forced into an involuntary mid-speed metronome.
This collection is also accompanied with various YouTube videos offering a further dimension. We can, for the first time, appreciate the authors sense of timing, drama and haunting playfulness. Each reading offers an innocent backdrop to the ringing and twisted messages and each contains at least one painful punch to the stomach. The story telling and the delivery are reminiscent of Edith Sitwell’s facade.
The whole collection is a wild ride of love, loss, passion and a search for meaning. It questions how we go about our lives, what we feel and what we hide. Each poem deserves its chance to breathe and to sit in your mind. The timing and quick-witted wordplay will compel you to ask questions of yourself and the world around you to perhaps see others as they ought to be seen not as you have been told they ought to be seen. It is the reverse of the binary and bite-sized world the marketeers would have you believe is real. It implores you to see the human struggle in yourself and in others, to perhaps realise the similarities between all people who seemingly desire one thing but really need and want another. It explains, almost painfully, how we each have a deep story and how we are all, at times, both hero and villain, kind and cruel, honest and dishonest. It teases and tempts, offers a subject then an explanation and then whips away the tablecloth to reveal what only each individual reader can clearly see. Its beauty is in how it will reveal yourself to you. It probes the parts of your mind you might be choosing to ignore. It unlocks and opens that which you might prefer to remain closed but that which you know is haunting you and appearing in moments of dark solitude.
It is a collection that will make you feel, that will take you into the world of the author like being led into a dark room blindfolded only to find you have been led into yourself.
You will feel the hope that exists in the small corners of this dark room. At times we see acceptance, resignation of the way our world works and then sometimes the sadness and the bitterness as to how it has affected our characters and pulled us out of shape. See the bitterness and rage which point you in no direction at all, expect perhaps the exit. Here the cries, feel the explosion of expression and share the agony and the melancholic reflections, the admissions and the tears. See the fights and the struggles, visit the discomfort of the uncommitted acceptance of daily life. See yourself sitting uncomfortably between each line. This is the antidote to pop-up, bitesize social media fake smiles and the constant bombardment of messages telling you to be more like her, to look just like her, to buy what you don’t need and to supress your inner self, your true self.