Roy Fisher Alan Brownjohn - Essay

Alan Brownjohn

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Recognition of Roy Fisher's verse … is long overdue. In his Collected Poems he has a poem called 'The Intruder' in which the image of a young girl walks in from nowhere onto some idle, arbitrary thought about colours. If the idea is nearly in the Whimsical vein, Fisher has the intelligence to see that no thought is utterly inconsequential, and to perceive that his talent is for catching those moments of consciousness when odd, luminous slants on reality provide insight or understanding. He works this personal seam (though it's one which derives from William Carlos Williams, even Wallace Stevens a little) very beautifully in poems like 'City'—surely one of the most consistently interesting experimental poems to come out of the little magazine activity of the last decade? The danger for Fisher is of a kind of detached aestheticism ('working to distinguish an event from an opinion'); but at its best, his precise evocation of the sheer delicate oddness of ordinary things (see 'The Park' and 'For Realism') can be as almost haunting as those ravaged industrial landscapes of the early Auden. (p. 701)

Alan Brownjohn, "Subways," in New Statesman (© 1969 The Statesman & Nation Publishing Co. Ltd.), Vol. 78, No. 2018, November 4, 1969, pp. 700-01.∗