Allusive and humorous, this uncommon anthology is comprised of the first lines of a collection of lost poems. Reportedly discovered in a Latin American restaurant in Glasgow, this immensely entertaining compilation of verse is full of depth, insight, provocations, and astonishments, and spans a wide range of writing styles, from melodrama and sarcasm to bawdiness and outright absurdity.
|Publisher:||Carcanet Press, Limited|
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.40(d)|
About the Author
Frank Kuppner is the author of A Bad Day for the Sung Dynasty, Everything is Strange, A God's Breakfast, The Intelligent Observation of Naked Women, Ridiculous! Absurd! Disgusting!, Second Best Moments in Chinese History, What? Again?
Read an Excerpt
Being a Revised Index Of First Lines of The Great Anthology
By Frank Kuppner
Carcanet Press LtdCopyright © 2008 Frank Kuppner
All rights reserved.
A,b,c,d and so on. Where's the problem?
A beautiful dead girl drew the blinds aside;
A beautiful garden, with someone to talk to attached to it,
A beloved land is that central land, Oblivia with its marvels;
Abortion among the star-studs! Rape too! Ah, how rapturously
About failure on such a scale there is almost something heroic.
Above all else, God likes us to lie about dozing in the morning;
Above all else, the desire to be Oblivian.
Abraham – a completely imaginary figure –
"A brave literary academic?" Are you serious?
"Absolute shit"? Whenever I hear the phrase,
Absorbed as I was by a volume of Heraclitus in Sanskrit,
According to Mark, one of the brothers of Jesus was called Judas;
A clerical assistant, who hailed from distant San Ignacio,
A contradiction in terms with delusions of grandeur
A cry of, "Deaf, inconsiderate oaf!" woke me up again.
Actually, I understand women perfectly.
Actually, it doesn't smell too bad now.
Actually, it's pomegranate juice. Quite nice, no?
Adamson! I had supposed you were my friend.
A devout Christian alcoholic? Is that even possible?
Adios! The Gods are simply too expensive.
A disembodied voice whispering "F — — k off!"
A dog barked, and the whole thing completely fell to pieces.
A few thousand more corpses were washed ashore that evening;
A few years ago, I was half a potato – when, suddenly
A flair for falling asleep in all the great temple sites
A flock of vicuña leisurely passing by
A friend of yours once told me you worship my stupidity. (Do you?)
After a fall in his home at the age of ten months
After a few shrill screams, the Stepson of God
After a second fall in his home at the age of ninety-one,
After a while, one simply packs it in and dies.
After God made your mole, Madam, I suspect He, quite justifiably,
After having had seven, or maybe eight, children – or maybe nine –
After I have ceased to exist, I just know I will still exist.
After joking for several years about having a heart problem,
After my last bowel operation, I said to myself: Ithuriel,
After our disastrous first meeting,
After sitting with one of her feet in my lap for most of the morning,
After sitting with one of her hands on my head for most of the evening,
After the brightest point of the day, something even brighter
After the proud traditional cry of, "It lacketh testicles!"
After the sudden delightful shower on Busch Avenue
A gay shadow pissing through the doors at evening
A great religious leader will soon come out of Alexandria
A group of water-drinking North American homosexuals
A half-decent pair of headlights quietly at work in a kitchen
Ah! Here it is at last! You know, I was almost beginning
Ah, yes! The old dream of absolute non-contingency!
A hymn of joy is rising again from the clean bathroom;
A ladder taller than the tree it was leaning against
A lady journalist from Thailand with utterly charming toes
A large, weathered shape at the back, which may be Jesus Christ,
Alas! Considered as a possible haven,
Alas, I am far too intelligent for my own good.
Alas, I have been quite unable to achieve satisfaction
Alas, I must rise and go now, and try my nightly couch;
Alas, I overlooked the fact that I too would grow old.
Alas, it is already clear to me that my son is a venomous little turd.
Alas, it seems they are merely a religious phenomenon –
Alas, my dear mother seems to have gone somewhat insane again.
Alas, not a single word of all that utterly marvellous teaching
Alas, the angel next door no longer flashes her wings at me.
Alas, the arrival of a younger ponce in a bigger car
A law-abiding citizen once found a hand-grenade
Alcohol? Surely alcohol is for sexual failures?
Alexander von Humboldt! Huh. We all know why
A lift climbs slowly in the hollow of my eyes
A little less melodrama, if you please, Penelope.
Allah does not like hearing the word 'Allah'.
Allah leads into error whomsoever he pleases
All art is a dulled nostalgia for our childhood toys;
All a writer can do today is fart uncontrollably.
All day in this retreat I hear the sound of bad men laughing;
All jewellery is a homage to the privatest of parts
All joys, all passions, all finer thoughts of Oblivia,
All languages compare badly even with your suppressed sneezing.
All life bar the physical life is conceptual or imaginary.
All living religions are a form of betrayal
All my life I have been a martyr to acute hearing.
All my life I have been struggling with my back teeth.
All my uncles were intellectuals in unfashionable cities.
All night I writhed about in agony yet again;
All one needs to know about God is that He is never in fact there.
Allow me, if I may, to take advantage of this crude instrument
Allow me, Lord, to do good – if that is what you have already
chosen for me.
Allow me, love, to insist upon the impossible.
Allow me to tell you precisely what I tell Almighty God about you.
All poets fail. That is, perhaps, what poetry is.
All right, said God. That's enough charming, voluble Celts.
All right; we are the opposite of an island again. So what?
All Scripture is more or less fantasy, more or less
All striking features will have stories attached to them;
All talk of lovers' perfections is so much impercipience.
All talk of superhuman meaning is, in the end, fraud.
All that happened before I returned to the Church –
All that has to do with alcohol is unbearably tedious.
All these erections which the Lord God hides behind
All these guides are, it seems to me, essentially liars.
All these wits, all these truly fantastic characters,
All the thinkers I have ever met were arrogant, ignorant, shits.
All this acute discussion of highly advanced farting noises
All this insane machinery for posthumous benefit!
All those people listening intently to unintentional silences!
All those people who think they can predict the State's future
All those who have been bitten by a blind man (or woman)
All those who have greatly entertained themselves inside a church at dawn
All will be well, and all will be stone dead too;
All will be well – in perhaps a rather special sense of 'well'.
Almighty God does not need to grope any angelic buttocks;
Almighty God, swinging upon a non-existent rope,
Almighty God, swinging upon a thin, dangerous chain,
Almighty God, you surely must have some idea what you are doing?
Almost everybody is sinking on the wrong boat.
Almost every day that fall, I took a small tart to the attic
Almost nothing gets said. And even less gets translated.
A lot of really great cutlery is being made in Scotland these days!
A lot of this "Jewish" stuff is actually Greek, you know?
Although, as I write this, I am still laughing uncontrollably,
Although I am perhaps almost frighteningly intelligent, Rae,
Although I did not ask to be made Oblivian,
Although no-one is more sceptical in such matters than myself,
Although our forefathers (Bless them!) may have failed again and again
Although she died forty years ago, I still have one of her baps
Although the atheist is not necessarily a foul, imperceptive turd,
Although the likes of you would never be able to offend God,
Although we had sex daily for several decades back to back,
Always these interesting trains going in the opposite direction;
A man may smile and smile and not be a violinist at all;
A man's life is never quite over until
A man's life is not over until
A mere fifty years later, what he had said was written down.
Am I alone in detecting here a reference
A million million million very very narrow avoidances
Am I not then to be allowed to say anything about the Jews?
Am I still too young to die, I ask myself;
Am I the only person who finds the universe rather unconvincing?
A moment of hope passed; returned; then passed again;
A monk from Santa Cruz, with his large, badly tuned pipes,
A monotheistic religion with three Gods is, certainly,
A mother of five who was gazing, amazed, at her only child
An appalling pain shatters me whenever I have to lift
An awful lot more seems to have changed during the night.
An awful lot seems to have changed back during the night;
And Death shall start to fart uncontrollably.
And did those balls
And Eve said to Adam: "Have you still not finished yet?
And God said: Let there be language!
And here is the story of Belshazzar's Fast, a comparatively little-known tale:
And he said in a most solemn voice: "This is my bap.
And is this really the same skirt which, several decades ago,
And now, in addition, I'm falling to bits too.
And now I seem to be losing the power in my legs.
And so the two little arses proceeded on up the hill;
And the Lord said: Strive ever, cretins, to do the unavoidable.
And then, one morning, Scheherazade, alas, slept in.
And then, suddenly, gloriously, I finally understood
And there came a voice from Heaven which said: "Erm ... One moment ..."
And thus one generation after the next discovers
And what of the world to come after the world to come? Eh?
And when they saw the Lord shaking a mountain over their heads,
An elevator rises slowly in the hollows behind my eye
An entire country talking the wrong language?
An exciting poet? He isn't even an unexciting poet.
A new moon? Why? What was wrong with the old one?
Angela, if only the whole world were as delightful
A nice twang is as strong an argument for world peace
An island whose centre is nowhere and perimeter everywhere
Anna Karenina is not really all that good, is it, Nigel?
An odd building in a field, with no clear path leading to it;
A nosebleed! Sudden astonishment! As if not even the Great War
Another project is the last bloody thing I need at the moment, actually.
Another troubled night. This unbearable itching
An unknown man who lived well in a fine house
Any intelligent man who takes this sort of nonsense seriously
Anyone who dies with pubic hair has lived an infinitely long time;
Anyone who looks at our flag in the wrong way
Any real man whose private parts have been removed will, naturally,
Any real poet does not have favourite words.
Any scholar will routinely exaggerate his linguistic abilities.
Apart, I suppose, from the fact that nobody reads them,
A peacock ran up and down her bedroom, screaming its head off.
A people, a tribe, a family; a communal grave
A perfect man lay in great beauty before me.
A pleasant Saturday afternoon. Although that large slug
A poem is often the secretion of an unrecognised pervert.
A poem should fall down all available stairways at once
A poet can hardly afford to be without some favourite words.
Apparently, God cares greatly about which direction we piss in.
Apparently she thought of herself as Old English;
A remote relative of mine once heard Charles Darwin say: "This fool
Aren't children adorable? You know, I sometimes think
Are there any rooms anywhere here in which people have never
Are we still in History or not, do you think, darling?
Are we supposed to take all this seriously?
Are you by any chance in favour of world poverty? Eh?
Are you by any chance pale because you've been working too hard?
Are you really saying it is wise to shun the Gentile?
Arriving in Heaven, he found there the old air
Arriving in Heaven, he found there the old chair
Arriving in Heaven, he found there the old hair
"A royal pension"? Whenever I hear the phrase,
Arrr! It is Oi who is a-being of a-having a-done of it.
As a 55-year-old pervert with a bad heart condition,
As a figure of international unimportance,
As a first approximation, I cry out, "— —"!
As a fully fledged Oblivian heterosexual failure,
As a lifelong feminist, I say this to women: "Listen.
As a man who has exploited almost every single Oblivian
As a matter of fact, no-one has ever had a previous life.
As a modest man who talks to the Transcendent every day,
As an almost perfect human being, you ask me why
As a pederast of genuinely international significance,
As a penetrator into many of the secret places
As a "person of almost unbelievable crudity",
As a proud Bolivian, I take the final, triumphant strides
As a sad git whom no-one has ever genuinely loved,
As a woman, I
As far as I can see, the mountain path is deserted;
As far as I'm aware, there is no evidence
As far as I'm concerned, you can shove your ferns
As for dying, our servants will presumably do that for us too.
As for Independence, quite frankly I object to it.
As for myself, you can see that I am finished.
As for rigor mortis, I suspect it too is over-rated;
As for the so-called United States of America,
A sharp wind from the Andes blows about my extended
As I am carried out head-first to where the lane meets the new highway,
As I improvise my way through this benign disaster,
As I sink beneath the high waves of continued English oppression,
As I sit here with an understandably superior expression,
As I sit here with steam coming out of my oppressed ears,
As it was my habit to give the Emperors useful advice,
As I was leaving The Happy Fascist – with mixed feelings, I hasten to add –
As I was waiting in solitude for my executioners,
As llama flocks climb stiff chasms, alpaca lambs lambent cliffs leap,
As, long ago, the never-yet-conquered Oblivians
A small journalist from Japan with genuinely charming genitals
A solemn face is a sacred shield for most depravities;
As one of Europe's thirteen or fourteen leading intellectuals,
As one of this country's thirty-one leading intellectuals,
As, on yet another ordinary, darkening evening,
As perhaps the most culturally diverse region of all Europe,
As regards my religion, darling, you are sitting on it.
As she shoved the warm, delicate meringue shyly into my face,
As someone famously sensitive to nuance, Pontius,
As someone who has been a World Cup finalist,
As someone who has more than once been stuck to this very floor,
As someone who has (twice!) been called "almost heart-breakingly attractive",
As so often happens here in Oblivia
As the best friend of at least a third of the Trinity,
As the greatest writer of perhaps the last five thousand years,
As the great Hillel said: "The more women there are,
As the Great Wall of the World's Indifference
As the old priest pulled two strings in the confessional box,
As "the perfect man" he was, one assumes, impotent.
As the priests ran up and down, shrieking with fear,
As the rain pours down on the street, the light at the window
As the Romans might say: All roads lead to Scunthorpe.
As the son and heir of a none-too-successful provincial shopkeeper,
As the train was about to enter Dorgonovastes Station,
As they stood at all the windows, looking out towards Russia,
As to how millions of bad angels could suddenly emerge
Astonishing fate! Quite surrounded by idiots,
As to what might happen to you after you have ceased to exist,
As to whether, Les, all three members of the Trinity
As to which of the great religions is, downright, the stupidest,
As to which particular Catholic youth it was who first seduced Oscar Wilde,
As to why I keep a harp beneath my bed, Doreen,
As to why the occasional small neat incision
A strange, exotic wayside memorial to a dog (or cat?)
A strangely erotic wayside Crucifixion
A sudden, stabbing pain at the end of my nose
As you stood at the window, looking out towards Rutherglen,
As you stood at the window, looking towards Rurrenabaque,
A systematic onslaught on all that is good and pure
At a recent Exhibition of Heterosexual Teenage Calligraphy
At first, in the beginning, there was no such thing as Time.
A thing of beauty can sometimes get royally on one's gonads;
At his coronation, the King took a white mare
At last, after several thousand billion years of oppression,
At last! A group of female agnostics have climbed Everest!
At last, I have found something I am happy to call 'God'.
At last I realised I was alone. Utterly alone.
At least I have the immense satisfaction of knowing
At least our pottery was not the pornographic sort
At length one begins to suspect how little most authority figures know.
At length one begins to suspect how little most writers know too.
At midnight, admiring the stars, waiting, slowly dampening
At night, by the wild, desolate shore of San Francisco,
At ninety-three, more or less, I gave her her first orgasm.
At ninety-three, more or less, I gave her her second orgasm.
At ninety-two, he was buried with full military honours,
A true angel would never piss in anyone's coffee even once.
A true Holy of Holies should always be empty.
A true poet, like Blod, always has much better things to do
At some point in his or her life, every father has to ask themselves
At some point, it will be discovered that I have always been a classic.
At ten to six in the evening, if my old watch is still accurate,
At the age of sixty-two, I suddenly realised
At the end, he was up on his pole, farting uncontrollably.
At the Estación Central, at about five past eleven,
At the Last Judgement, a sort of transcendental stink
At the marriage feast, they had reached the crude animal noises stage;
At the moment, my ambition, more than anything else,
Attributing one's own writings to a superhuman agency
Au fond, who does not wish to pull down the Lady Fortune's
Excerpted from Arioflotga by Frank Kuppner. Copyright © 2008 Frank Kuppner. Excerpted by permission of Carcanet Press Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A long poem made up of the revised first lines of an imaginary Great Anthology, ordered alphabetically. Many of the lines are wonderful. Not as wonderful, though, on the whole, as the author's "Bad Day for the Sung Dynasty," The sustained attack on religion is too serious, and the fart jokes get tiresome. In the epigraph the author explains, "I have only had glimpses of the life I would like to have had./But that, I dare say, IjklmnO, is all I would have anyway."