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The Third Mandarin
RRP: GBP 10.39
Available from: Buy now from Amazon
ISBN: 978 1 784104 02 3
Categories: 21st Century, Scottish
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: August 2018
120 pages (print version)
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: Paperback, eBook (EPUB)
Frank Kuppner’s The Third Mandarin contains 501 quatrains in five ‘books’. It collages an alternative Imperial China of drunk poets, grumpy sages, and sex-starved emperors. The poems riff on a variety of forms, from prophecies and love letters to drinking songs and graffiti.
As a storyteller, Kuppner sticks faithfully to the path of least significance. His is a poetry of things that might happen in a minute or two, to people we don’t really care about, for reasons too complicated to go into. His characters have a habit of turning up late to their own poems, as the poet rushes off to find them so that he can get started. Half riddling philosopher, half drivelling idiot, Kuppner’s speaker has the air of someone who has forgotten why they came into the room, 501 times.
Funny, ridiculous, and beautiful, The Third Mandarin confirms Kuppner as a poet ‘of immense intellectual and comic power’ (Poetry Review), ‘one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary British poetry' (LRB).
'Goodsir Smith, who drew from poetry from the Far East, shares Kuppner's nimble and fluid ability to code-switch and move from the sublime to the ridiculous in the space of a line or two. The difference is that Kuppner has managed to sustain this for the length of a book of some 120 pages, which is a feat to be marvelled at, and of course enjoyed.'
Richie McCaffery, The Bottle Imp
Praise for Frank Kuppner 'He writes with the bemused urgency of someone who has only just noticed that nothing whatsoever makes any sense... Kuppner risks playing with bathos and sarcasm, outright silliness and sheer smut...'
Sunday Herald 'Kuppner's poetry invites us to reflect on human knowledge and the ineffable, trivial nature of existence; it is true philosophy. He makes us think about what it means to be alive.'
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