Roy Fisher Eric Mottram - Essay

Eric Mottram

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

['City' from Collected Poems can] be said to be a set of ways in which a responsive sensuous man fights off aristocratism in a levelling and mediocre environment…. What is so warmly present is Fisher's sense of responsible living possible for the artist who sees and whose eyes hold excitement for him, as he uses the technological and human environment, and, as McLuhan would say, makes it visible. (p. 13)

The penetrating mood of 'City' is not … nostalgia but of exploring for relevance to the business of living, working, loving, family….

The Ship's Orchestra is an assemblage, erotic and musical (Fisher's experience with bands and combos penetrates the work). The prose sentences and paragraphs belong to that kind of writing which varies its pitch and tone and cannot simply be called 'poetic prose' or some other such academic slotting. It is certainly a fine instrument…. Like listening to jazz changes, reading Ship's Orchestra you have to be alert to variants…. Ship's Orchestra is among other things a description of a way of life: that when the sound stops, the music dies and with it a part of the ongoing life of the band as men and women…. (p. 14)

Like 'City' the book is concerned with the dangers of finding meaning in an environment, of needing to have a larger inclusive meaning into which work and day-to-day living may be fitted…. (p. 15)

The space of the work is a music-less ship, with its maze of dark tubes and cul-de-sacs; the form of the work is the waking part of the sexual dream which merges with memories of childhood sexuality. The nightmare of endless and various pipes of connection, communication, organization, evacuation and intake becomes 'the system', a city in itself, out of Fisher's own necessity. Gradually the absence of music becomes the exploration of an...

(The entire section is 780 words.)