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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Robert Sheppard on Roy Fisher's ‘Stops and Stations’: part of A Tribute to Roy Fisher

The last time I saw Roy was at the Manchester Literary Festival on18thOctober 2010 (I spoke with Fleur Adcock, Jon Glover, Michael Symmons Roberts, Peter Robinson, and Jeffrey Wainwright, while Ian Pople chaired). Roy sat in the audience and didn't read or speak which felt odd (because we were reading and speaking) but he was was as witty as ever, close up and quiet. The text of of my piece was published on Eyewear and may be read here


I began: 'The invitation to speak about a single poem by Roy Fisher already makes me feel that violence has been inflicted upon the considerable body of work we now possess. Such stringency favours the isolated poem as against the sequence; it seems to me that much of Roy Fisher’s brilliance reveals itself in extended – often serial – works. The single poem conserves its energies in a centrifugal way, looking to itself for its sense of form, finding just enough confirmation of its own viability, its vitality, its need to exist, from its own resources. It seems to me that what we used to call free verse (and we haven’t found a less clumsy term to replace it) requires more of that energy. The poem hangs together by the formal and semantic magnetism of its parts. Fisher speaks of the short poem – and he was much given to the form in the 1970s – as being somewhat like the 3 minute max recordings of his favourite Chicago jazz heroes. Familiar patterns, laced with unfamiliarity. Tight, concise, limited, complete...' Read the rest!