This companion volume to the acclaimed Dreams of the Caucasus (Shearsman, 2010) is selected from poems written, and widely published, since the late Nineties. These pieces explore the same themes of travel, desire, adventure and mortality that pervade that collection and, indeed, Jope’s previous Waterloo collection The Book of Bells and Candles (2009).
Seeing the world and eating it whilst one still has the energy to do so — whether directly or via an array of ‘remote viewing’ strategies — is key to Jope’s motivation. On the one hand, therefore, this poetry takes the time it needs for a good (or sometimes devilish) look — on the other hand it is as if its gambits were being countered throughout by a player whose face is always in shadow.
In this regard, the focal reference to Aphinar — the unidentifiable city of Rimbaud’s death-bed delirium — is an appropriate one, beyond the assurance of any map. Symbolic as it is of the reconciliation, in Jope’s oeuvre, of actual and virtual travelogue Aphinar is also the city that we all inhabit as we lie in wait for the death that lies in wait for us. What emerges from these pieces, however — whether in spite of, or because of this — is a profound and poignant love of life and of the possibilities that it offers.