School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

Staff Profile

Professor Jacob Polley

Professor of Creative Writing



Professor Jacob Polley is the DPD (Degree Programme Director) of both the Creative Writing MA and the MA Writing Poetry programmes.

Jacob was born and grew up in Cumbria. After studying at the University of Lancaster, where he received a BA and an MA, he worked in various jobs, going freelance in 2000, when he became poet in residence at the News and Star newspaper in Carlisle.

Jacob has published four books of poetry with Picador, UK – The Brink, Little Gods, The Havocs and Jackself – and a novel – Talk of the Town. Jackself won the 2016 T.S. Eliot Prize for poetry, The Havocs (2012) the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and Talk of the Town the 2010 Somerset Maugham Award. In 2001, Jacob received an Eric Gregory Award as well as the BBC Radio 4/Arts Council ‘First Verse’ Award, and he was also chosen as one of the 2004 ‘Next Generation’ of British poets. Jacob has been poet in residence for Arts Queensland, Australia (2011) and at the Wordsworth Trust (2002), and from 2005-07 was the Visiting Fellow Commoner in the Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge.

With Ian Fenton, he co-wrote the short films, Flickerman and the Ivory-skinned Woman (2001) and Keeping House (2015), and he has fulfilled commissions to make several large-scale collaborative installation or musical pieces, including ‘The Recollection Rooms’ (2005), which was part of English Heritage’s ‘Picture House’ exhibition at Belsay Hall, ‘Bathtime’ (2011) at Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum, and ‘Ballads of Blood’ (2013), which was part of the London Sinfonietta/Jerwood Blue Touch Paper bursary scheme. In 2017, he was commissioned by the Lakes Alive Festival to collaborate with Dutch musicians, Strijbos and Van Rijswijk, to make 'To Travel and to Matter' - a sound installation sited in the Lake District and experienced through headphones as you walk a route, using GPS technology.

Jacob wrote and performed the play, 'Lamanby', which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on National Poetry Day in 2017. 'Lamanby' is part of Jacob's reworking of the poems in Jackself for live performance, a project he's working on collaboratively with the musician and sound designer, John Alder. BBC Radio 3 broadcast the second part of this collaboration, 'The Blackwood', in September 2018. Jacob continues to make work with the theatre designer, Imogen Cloët, with whom he’s collaborated for several years, and with the film-maker and writer, Ian Fenton. He is also working with Professor Chris Jones, at the University of St Andrews, on a modern reconfiguring of the Old English riddles from the Exeter Book. He regularly broadcasts and publishes poems, essays and short stories.

Previous Positions
Jacob was a lecturer, then senior lecturer, at the University of St Andrews (2010-15), and senior lecturer at Newcastle University (2015-18).


2016/17 - Present: Degree Programme Director: MA in Creative Writing

2015/16 - Present: Degree Programme Director: Writing Poetry MA


Research Interests

Contemporary British poetry; contemporary fiction and non-fiction; collaboration.