Poetry Book Society Special Commendation
Slakki is Old Norse for a shallow depression among hills: ‘Not much of a valley. A Slack,’ wrote Roy Fisher, with typical self effacement. But appearances are deceptive where this Slakki is concerned. Opening with new poems written during his 80s – since his Costa-shortlisted collection Standard Midland (2010) – the book’s second section is a gathering of uncollected poems mainly written during the 1960s, though occasionally foreshadowed later in the previous decade, while the third part contains poems, similarly uncollected, written in the 1950s.
‘I describe the poems in sections two and three of this book as neglected,’ Roy Fisher wrote in an afterword. ‘I must emphasise that these poems have not been passed over or slighted by publishers, editors or reviewers: indeed my work always seems to me to have had as much attention as it deserved or was likely to get. The neglect has been entirely mine.’ Fisher’s Collected Poems 1968 from Fulcrum was a carefully constructed volume whose cut down selection was carried over into later retrospectives: ‘The cut material was left to lie more or less unexamined again until now. That turn of events furnishes the majority of the neglected items in the present volume. There’s an element of what could better be called habitual negligence that also has a bearing.’
Peter Robinson produced and ordered the texts of Slakki in response to instructions and advice from Roy Fisher. Derek Slade contributed substantially to composing the notes on sources and earlier appearances of the works gathered here.
‘Few writers have captured the changeable beauty of the English landscape with Fisher’s painterly know how… Long may this incomparable and visionary poet thrive.’ – David Wheatley, Guardian [on Slakki: New & Neglected Poems]
‘The widespread admiration for Fisher’s writing is undoubtedly because, for over sixty years, Fisher has given his readers an exploration of the world which is not only deeply recognisable, but constantly different and effortlessly enthralling. And the poems in this book are each and every one worth the reprinting.’ – Ian Pople, The Manchester Review [on Slakki: New & Neglected Poems]
'The Long and the Short of It: Poems 1955–2010 should be read by anyone with a serious interest in post-war English poetry... Fisher’s voice remains as distinctive as lemon juice, his poetic self somehow intact across a range of types of piece… One way and another, the poems of Slakki flash fascinating signals from the past into the present.’ - William Wootten, Times Literary Supplement
‘Fisher devotees should add this book to their bulging shelf of Roy-volumes. And new readers can start here and dip their toes before the full immersion. People: he is the President.’ – Ian McMillan [on Slakki: New & Neglected Poems]
'There is no poet alive whose work has challenged or interested me more.’ – August Kleinzahler
Roy Fisher: The Long and the Short of It
Roy Fisher reads a selection of poems from The Long and the Short of It: ‘The Thing About Joe Sullivan’ (from 1965), ‘The ‘Entertainment of War’ (1957), 'The Nation’ (1984), ’Talking to Cameras’ (1991), ‘Birmingham River’ (1991), ‘For Realism’ (1965) and ‘It Is Writing’ (1974). Pamela Robertson-Pearce filmed him at his home in Earl Sterndale, Derbyshire, in October 2008. The audio of Fisher playing jazz piano is from Tom Pickard’s film, Birmingham’s What I Think With (Pallion Productions, 1991). This film is from the DVD-anthology In Person: World Poets, filmed & edited by Pamela Robertson-Pearce & Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books, 2017).