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This article is taken from PN Review 233, Volume 43 Number 3, January - February 2017.

Strike a Light Andrew McNeillie
IT WAS EARLY in December, 1969, that I first met John Fuller. One of those startling bright winter mornings, cold and clear, that cities sometimes surprise you with and which Oxford can stage so well. Was the light still in my eyes? Emrys Jones tugged the long curtain one way, John tugged it the other, while I sat opposite them sunk in a sofa, now squinting, now shielding my eyes with a hand. The whole business of putting out the sun seemed to take forever. I suppose it helped break the ice. Then Emrys folded himself back into his chair like some strange umbrella with not enough spokes and a quizzical handle. He was begowned for the occasion. I don’t recall that John was. Perhaps I was too preoccupied by his polo-neck sweater, cavalry-twill trousers, red socks and suede shoes, to notice. My wardrobe was far more basic and I suppose it interested me to see how different sartorial arrangements might be. I hadn’t done any homework on John Fuller. But I was more than aware of his poems, those early, sharp, dark poems which I still love especially; and I think I was a little nervous of their author. My introduction to them came courtesy of Alvarez, in both the original and revised version of The New Poetry. These were still quite early days for the poet.

Pleasantries over and the sun eclipsed, we sat looking at each other. That too seemed to take forever. I can’t remember how we got underway, insofar as we did at all. But something had to give. I was being ...


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