The poems of A. C. Jacobs have a steady pulse of displacement and exile, however responsively he locates himself at different points on what he himself described as his “sequences of journeys”. Arthur Jacobs was born in 1937 in Glasgow and grew up there and in London. His parents were Orthodox Jews from Lithuania. In his twenties he spent some years in Israel, and thereafter continued to be on the move – England, Scotland, Italy, Spain – always carrying with him his sense of dislocation and his felt knowledge of the burdens of the past.
The year and place of his birth are imprinted in his writing: 1937, the year before Kristallnacht; Glasgow, where there was a vibrant Jewish community embedded in a once thriving industrial city. “I was born in a strange land”, he writes in “Alien Poem”, and describes how he feels alienated not just from his place of birth but also from the land of his parents, “other towns with trams and trees and silence”, not forgotten but not spoken of. He concludes that “strangers never grow into cities”, and also that the next generation bears the weight of a past they cannot fully access. These motifs underlie much of his writing, alongside a sympathetic, sometimes joyful, appreciation of difference.