Evan Jones: Later Emperors and The Barbarians Arrive TodaySarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Evan Jones’s boxfresh book CP Cavafy, The Barbarians Arrive Today: Poems & Prose, only just out with Manchester-based Carcanet Press, has already made the TLS Book of the Year list – and here’s another chance to hear from it, following hot on the heels of his reading alongside American poet, translator and director of the Poetry Center in Athens, AE Stallings. Tonight’s event with the University of Bolton’s English and Creative Writing Department also sees Evan read from his third self-titled collection, Later Emperors, which came out earlier this year, but suffered from early pandemic lack of launch hullaballoo, so call this a late launch!
Originally from Canada, Evan Jones has taught Creative Writing full-time at the University of Bolton since 2013 and has lived in Manchester since 2005, gaining a PhD in English & Creative Writing from the University of Manchester. His first collection, Nothing Fell Today But Rain (2005), was a finalist for the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Poetry and his second original volume of poetry, Paralogues, was published by Carcanet in 2012.
Tonight’s event with the University of Bolton’s English and Creative Writing Department also sees Evan read from his third self-titled collection, Later Emperors, which came out earlier this year.
Highly anticipated, the poems in Later Emperors have been praised by POETRY magazine editor Don Share as having “a deeply distinctive literary wit”. Later Emperors is actually four poems – and four voices – each of which approaches Roman history from a very different perspective. Also published by Carcanet, the website says: “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 Barbarians Arrive Today has been described as “the classic English Cavafy for our age”. Expertly translated from Modern Greek, the book presents some of Cavafy’s finest poems, short creative prose and autobiographical writings, and, including an afterword by Jones, offers unique insights into the poet’s life’s work. Regarded as one of the most significant poets of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Egypt-born Constantine Petrou Cavafy (1863-1933) has been an influence on writers across generations and languages since – despite only self-publishing and distributing his poems among friends at the time. His work is described thus: “The broad, rich world of the Mediterranean and its complex history are his domain, its days and nights of desire and melancholy, ambition and failure – with art always at the centre of life.”