This new expanded edition of The Long and the Short of It covers 55 years of Roy Fisher's poetry. Playing the language, pleasuring the imagination and teasing the senses, Fisher’s witty, inventive and anarchic poetry has given lasting delight to his many dedicated readers for over half a century. Choosing this book on Desert Island Discs, Ian McMillan praised Fisher as 'Britain's greatest living poet'.
The Long and the Short of It draws on the entire range of Fisher’s work, from its fraught beginnings in the 1950s through major texts of the 1960s and 1970s such as City, The Ship’s Orchestra and ‘Wonders of Obligation’, to A Furnace, his 1980s masterpiece, and and then the later work set in the scarred and beautiful North Midlands landscape where he lived for over 30 years, notably the Costa-shortlisted Standard Midland (2010), which has been added to this expanded edition. It does not include his final collection, Slakki: New & Neglected Poems, published in 2016.
'I was proud to be able to choose his Selected Poems, The Long and the Short of It... as my book on Desert Island Discs, and I know that I'll be returning to that book over and over again in the next few weeks and months, now that one of the most important inhabitants of the island has gone.' - Ian McMillan, paying tribute to Roy Fisher
'The Long and the Short of It: Poems 1955–2010 should be read by anyone with a serious interest in post-war English poetry.' - William Wootten, Times Literary Supplement
'Fisher stands outside, or alongside, whatever else is happening, an English late modernist whose experiments tend to come off. He is a poet of the city – his native Birmingham, which he describes as "what I think with". He is a redeemer of the ordinary, often a great artist of the visible… His range is large: he suits both extreme brevity and book-length exploration; his seeming improvisations have a way of turning into architecture. The best place to start is The Long and the Short of It. It might look and sound like nothing on earth at first, but then it becomes indispensable.' – Sean O'Brien, The Guardian
'There is no poet alive whose work has challenged or interested me more.’ – August Kleinzahler
'The personality that emerges from Fisher's poetry, for all his influences, is altogether English: ironic, humorous, self-deprecating and unpretentiously local.' – Elaine Feinstein
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).
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