PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Colm Toibin on Thom Gunn's Letters Allice Hiller and Sasha Dugdale in conversation David Herman on the life of Edward W. Said Jena Schmitt o'sn Hope Mirrlees Brian Morton: Now the Trees
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
PN Review New Issue

This review is taken from PN Review 20, Volume 7 Number 6, July - August 1981.

SIMPLY THE KNOWN Roy Fisher, Poems 1955-1980 (Oxford) £7.95

The dust-wrapper of the Fulcrum Press collection of Roy Fisher's poems (so much better produced than the present enlarged edition, a pitiful comedown for Oxford) shows a Birmingham street party with the poet as a small boy somewhere in the crowd: one of his later poems makes sardonic play with the fact. The picture was appropriate, however, for Fisher is anonymous in his world. His allegiance to Modernism has been absolute: not for him the cataloguing of personal emotions or the unravelling of biographical impressions. He is a singularly selfless poet.


I would
get into a message if I could
and come complete
to where I can see
what's across the park:
and leave my own position
empty for you in its frame. (The Poet's Message')


Fisher works less through vocabulary than through syntax, to open up possibilities of apprehension; through defining modes and angles of vision his deft phrases pick open the opaque world we ordinarily inhabit.


I come quite often now upon a sort of ecstasy, a rag of light blowing among the things I know, making me feel I am not the one for whom it was intended, that I have inadvertently been looking through another's eyes and have seen what I cannot receive.


This comes from 'City', that amalgam of verse and prose which renders the urban landscape of Birmingham through an eye ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image