Norman Jope

The Book of Bells and Candles (2009)


Since the publication of For The Wedding-Guest (Stride: 1996), Norman Jope’s work has appeared frequently in magazines, webzines and anthologies but further collection has been long overdue. The Book of Bells and Candles — a sequence of fifty-four linked poems — sets this process in motion. Strongly influenced by writing from other literatures, as well as both traditional
and contemporary English-language literature, Jope’s work seeks to be European and global in its scope as well as English. The terrain in which this sequence is set — that of Central and East-Central Europe – is one he knows well from experience.
  However, this is neither an unadorned travelogue nor an exercise in autobiography. Instead, Jope re-figures the Golem myth in a twenty-firstcentury setting, by sending an emissary forth into a landscape peopled with contemporaries and ghosts; above all, the doomed Austrian poet
Georg Trakl, whose presence broods over much of this sequence. The fact that it never ‘happened’ is a blessing rather than a curse, and highlights the subtle re-modernism of Jope’s approach. He is also unafraid to treat the cultural producers of the past and present with equal respect but this constitutes the very opposite of cultural levelling. Jope conducts a rearguard action, not in order to resurrect a superseded canon but to encourage a context in which ‘multiple canons’ can inform and invigorate each other.
  Whereas so much contemporary British poetry continues to look across the Atlantic for its inspiration, The Book of Bells and Candles assists in redressing the imbalance by looking, and travelling, into the heart of the European mainland. Combining the expansiveness and flexibility of
contemporary travel writing with concision of poetic form, this is a book that not only responds to earlier achievements but moves degrees of latitude. It marks out Jope as a poet, not only of ambition and technique, but of the sun-chasing hubris that we need — as much as ever, at a time
where not just one but two poetic mainstreams may have emerged — to attain the unprecedented.
  Above all, The Book of Bells and Candles is a sequence that reaches out, claiming new spaces both for its writer and its readers, and paving the way for an English culture more responsive — belatedly — to its European connections.

ISBN: ISBN 978-1-906742-06-5 Category:

Praise and Poems

A talent to be reckoned with….
Jay Ramsay

Jope is one of the more intriguing innovative poets now writing in the UK – his work is at times satisfyingly strange, exotic and linguistically rich.
Todd Swift, Eyewear

Starting from facing the nightmarish but all too real world of social and economic disintegration, Norman Jope moves through a personal questioning, reordering, seeking, imagining, to a point where individual and world reach towards integration and healing within a spiritual dimension, a dimension of love.
Jeremy Hilton, Tears in the Fence

He provides both intellectual depth and emotional involvement for the reader who is prepared to put in a bit of an effort… Norman Jope is a sophisticated writer who never allows his education to get in the way of his wonderment and sense of questing.
Steve Spence, Terrible Work

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