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Categories: 21st Century, Ancient Greek and Roman, British, Canadian
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (80 pages)
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Later Emperors is four poems, each of which approaches Roman history from a very different perspective. It is also four voices, each one concerned with the living and the dead: voices of historians and moralists, voices of great (and not so great) emperors. Jones has written a book which is all the more for our time because it looks so clearly at other times and identifies in them familiar patterns, difficulties, ambitions and desires. History becomes a crystal ball in which the past chides the future, the same mistakes predicted and made again, the same injustices repeated. The Byzantine historians Michael Psellos and Anna Komnene reveal themselves as the significant chroniclers they always were. The book concludes with a retelling of Plutarch's 'Consolatio Ad Uxorem', in which Jones considers what we might hold on to in a world of suffering.
'Greek-Canadian poet Evan Jones certainly appears to inhabit easily the worlds of first millennium Rome and early second millennium Byzantium brought to life in these poems [...] It is almost reassuring in our even more turbulent times, to hope that a future Evan Jones might cast an equally cold eye on the reign of our own later emperors.'
The High Window
'These are quiet poems that manage, with remarkable and deceptive simplicity, to get under the skin. I am delighted that lockdown made me acquainted with them.'
'The trajectory of Jones' style deepens and intensifies as the book goes on; its music beautifully controlled to gather and sharpen. But, although his subjects are all aristocrats, there isn't a grandiloquent, unnecessary phrase in the whole collection. Plutarch and Gibbon may sit behind Evan Jones but Later Emperors is a lovely, unique working, whose contemporary relevance is never overt but subtly and sensitively implicit.'
Ian Pople, The North
'Jones's spare, evocative, and imagistic verse offers, through half-glimpsed narratives of ambition and loss, a rumination on the transience of things in this world [...] Later Emperors is a lyrical book, somber yet lovely. Rare among works of poetry today, it offers not only beauty but also a wisdom rooted in time and timelessness.'
Benjamin Myers, World Literature Today
'Later Emperors shows it's possible to write with the "sound of sense" while creating an allegory for our time. Jones uses the Roman Empire as a blueprint for learning from history, But his poems are not judgmental. They let readers see venality and decline, drawing from a range of personas steeped in the capricious nature of twin political valences' power and appetite.'
Nyla Matuk, The Vehicule Press Blog
'The poems in Later Emperors surprise and delight like those incisive, wry and honest inscriptions that come down to us from antiquity seemingly having survived everything, not least history's ravages. At the same time, there's a deeply distinctive literary wit at work in this book as Jones's lines limn (and update) the lives of the fleetingly powerful with the acuity and concision of Martial, the wit and heart of Horace. How those later emperors resemble the tyrants of our own time! What a skilled guide to them we have in Evan Jones!'
Praise for Evan Jones Evan Jones is an intelligent, allusive poet who has elegantly synthesized his roots in Greek culture. These quietly serious poems throw up glimpses of dream and myth, and do so in a context of real thoughtfulness, free of rhetoric but rich in formal control.
Fiona Sampson [T]he most daring reassessment of our country's canon in years... In a better world, which is to say an alternate reality, this compact and highly readable anthology would be the book your CanLit course makes you buy.
Jason Guriel, Maisonneuve Riots broke out in downtown Montreal earlier in the month after the launch of a new anthology of contemporary Canadian verse at the Bloated Behemoth Book Store. That book, it was later discovered by a man who had subjected it to forensic examination, contained shockingly little verse by poets born in Canada. Several hailed from south of the border, and a third is said to have been resident in London (England), earning a meager living as an antiquarian book dealer and 'practising orientalist', for the past several decades. Margaret Atwood was not even represented in the collection...
Michael Glover, The Bow-Wow Shop The reader...will experience sweet discoveries ranging from the territory of early twentieth century poets W.W.E. Ross and Alfred Bailey to later poets John Thompson and David Wevill, from French-Canadian Anne Hébert to the likes of Robyn Sarah, Don Coles, and Mary Dalton.
Ingrid Ruthig, Northern Poetry Review Swift and Jones... have put together a wonderful anthology.
Michael Lista, National Post This is a lovely book; full poems that really stand up, and to which you will keep returning.
Ian Pople, The Manchester Review I could make a list of all my favourite Canadian poets who are excluded from this volume because of the editors' high modernist interests. But they have defined the story they want to tell, and they have every right to do so. There is no rule saying that editors have to be democratic or representative in their choices. And, given those choices, I like what they have done. I don't even have to be British to appreciate it!
Robert Lecker, Canadian Literature I can think of no equivalent for what Swift and Jones have attempted: to rebuild a national canon from scratch using the most obscure figures. Is it subversive? Well, factor in that Carcanet is one of the U.K.'s leading poetry presses, that the last foreign-published Canadian poetry anthology appeared half a century ago, and that many British readers will take their first cues about Canadian poetry from this book - then you get a sense of the exhilarating sneak attack that has been perpetrated on our image abroad.
Carmine Starnino, Quill & Quire
The Carcanet Blog New Poetries VIII: Sinad Morrissey on Conor Cleary read more The Earliest Witnesses: G.C. Waldrep read more Conor Cleary: NPVIII: Meet the Contributor read more New Poetries VIII: Tara Bergin on Suzannah V. Evans read more Suzannah V. Evans: NPVIII: Meet the Contributor read more New Poetries VIII: Andrew Wynn Owen on Tristram Fane Saunders read more
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