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This article is taken from PN Review 106, Volume 22 Number 2, November - December 1995.

Beginnings Frank Kuppner

I wrote poetry in my adolescence and early twenties, under a variety of influences - some of which I completely misunderstood, and others of which now seem to me to be made of clay virtually from top to toe. Not that such categories are mutually exclusive. I then stopped for a while, puzzled by it all: and believing that the wisest way through my uncertainty was first to work out what poetry was - what constituted its essence: what its central core was about - before returning to it from a much more well-informed position.

This was, of course, a fairly useless enterprise. I think I saw it as being rather like familiarizing myself with a map before going on a journey: whereas a somewhat more accurate analogy would probably be that of trying to work out exactly what love is before falling in love with someone. It just doesn't work that way.

Realising, after some time, that I was getting nowhere with this, and rather wanting to write poetry again (for reasons I forget), I decided that the only practical thing to do now was simply to return to what my maturer judgement, such as it was, told me was still the best poetry I had ever read; and try to use that, however maverick an enterprise it might theoretically seem, as a model for saying what I myself wanted to say. This led me in short order to something called The Jade Mountain ...

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