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This review is taken from PN Review 204, Volume 38 Number 4, March - April 2012.

No Single Place To Be roy fisher, Standard Midland (Bloodaxe) £7.95
An Unofficial Roy Fisher, edited by Peter Robinson (Shears­man) £12.95

Standard Midland begins with a poem proposing the Madagascan exhumation ceremony as interpretation of a prehistoric burial cave in the Peak District - beautifully phrased, slightly tongue-in-cheek, and, as far as I can judge, scientifically plausible. This makes one feel rather sorry for all the critics and poets who have insistently characterised Roy Fisher as 'poet of the Midlands', or of cities, urban landscape, essentially English, or for that matter modernist, experimental or materialist. What elaborate machinery we have devised for avoiding the main issue, whatever it is. Fisher's poetry encourages me to think that it concerns a particular, maybe 'poetical', relationship between writing and world, a kind of mutual respect, also modulating in his case into mutual distrust. Some poetry, a lot of Yeats's for instance, wrests the world to its own purposes, setting up a theatre on its own terms. Roy Fisher's is not like that, though there is a streak of mysticism running through his career. Rather each percept is tested against, and opens onto, a sense of the reality outside the window. There is, then, a kind of fidelity, or deference, towards a sense of shareable experience while inhabiting language as closely as possible, so we get a recognition-within-difference. Word choice, rhythms, and even lineation again and again elicit our acknowledgement, that, yes, it is like that, even if this is the last place we would have expected to find it. The following short poem is a light-hearted, slightly self-mocking expression of just this sense ...


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