on 2 April 2011
Roy Fisher is not a public poet, nor is he a doorway into poetry. If you have only skimmed the surface of contemporary poetry, or are intrigued by the recommendations of his many fans within the poetry community, be warned that these poems aren't going to work for you. You have to work to get to them. Like the midland landscapes he evokes, these poems show an indifference to the reader, there is no easy moral, no homely summation, no Heaney-esque tone of consolation to counter-balance the impersonal images. However, for the careful reader and the reader that is ready to read a poem many times and find it slightly different on each occasion, there are many rewards to be had. In some poems Fisher pulls off that cinematic panning effect that has had such a heavy influence on August Kleinzahler and many others. There is also a sharp, pithy humour on display in shorter poems such as the title poem and his spare, subtle elegy to his son. To top it all off there is a poem about a dancing Neanderthal which is right up my alley, maybe not yours. This may be a slim volume, but this is because the poems demand careful reading, and many readings of them. Not many poets are writing their best material, still innovating stylistically and not afraid to be difficult in their eighties. Roy Fisher is all that and more, let's not expect him to be nice about it.
on 1 February 2011
This is a book of poetry by the veteran poet, Roy Fisher. It was recommended by another poet and writer, Ian McMillan, who made great claims for Fisher - "the best poet writing in England now". I was very underwhelmed, I'm afraid: most of the poems in this fairly slim volume are not only difficult but unmemorable. However, it was short-listed for the Costa prize this year, and has commendations from other poets - so perhaps I am missing something!