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This review is taken from PN Review 53, Volume 13 Number 3, January - February 1987.

IRREGULAR ACTIONS Allen Fisher, Unpolished Mirrors (Reality Studios, 85 Balfour Street, London, SE17) £3.50 pb.
Allen Fisher, Brixton Fractals (Aloes Books, 64 Lanercost Road, London, SW2) £4 + 50p
Spanner 25: Allen Fisher Necessary Business (64 Lanercost Road, London, SW2) £3

In 1975 Allen Fisher received the Alice Hunt Bartlett Award for the first volume of Place, a poetic achievement of some magnitude which occupied him during the 1970s, and which Unpolished Mirrors completes, but he has received little institutional recognition since. His work seems offputting because of its bulk, and because of the way texts necessarily interrelate and form parts of extensive projects. Within works - particularly Place - the poet's reading provides 'resources' and quotations that are not offered as evidence of a case, but are part of the works' 'shading', the co-existence of mutually cancelling cross-references. They contribute not to a unity of meaning, but to an expansive semantic indeterminacy. The work is therefore learned in a curiously off-hand way, and as knowingly self-contradictory and all-embracing as Whitman's. Fisher has used both chance procedures and fixed systems to generate texts, but is both anarchistic and committed enough to repeatedly subvert system to his utopian vision. But to say all this is to present a blurred snap-shot of a vitally important poetic process - a key word for Fisher - and to acknowledge that this review conceals more than it reveals of his total endeavours.

Earlier Place volumes were Olsonian in character, focusing upon a palimpsest London, but Unpolished Mirrors adopts the slightly clumsy style of pseudo-Blakean oracular monologue, with characters ranging from Gardener of 'the garden of a coming English Revolution' to the repressive Watling. London becomes similarly mythical, and there is a concern for ...


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