Roy Fisher is known internationally for his witty, anarchic poetry which plays the language, pleasures the imagination and teases the senses. But he is at heart an English Midlander.
In Standard Midland, he confronts and worries at nuances of perception and the politics of understanding. Many of the poems are concerned with landscapes, experienced, imagined or painted, particularly the scarred and beautiful North Midlands landscape in which he has lived for nearly thirty years.
Standard Midland contains work mostly written since his Bloodaxe retrospective The Long and the Short of It: Poems 1955-2005 and his texts for the artist's book Tabernacle, his recent collaboration with Ronald King. The book's publication coincides with his 80th birthday.
"The publication in 2005 of Fisher's collected poems, The Long and the Short of It, testified to what a lifelong exploration of plain speaking can achieve: a body of work that displays thrilling variety and ambition. Fisher's imagination is both capacious and scrupulous... Standard Midland is an honest appraisal of what it is possible to say, and what remains to be said, by an artist in old age. It finds Fisher at his most approachable and makes an excellent introduction to this important poet's work."
Paul Batchelor, The Guardian
"The personality that emerges from Fisher's poetry, for all his influences, is altogether English: ironic, humorous, self-deprecating and unpretentiously local."
"A poet of cities in growth and in derelictionÖHis knowledge of urban landscape is formidable, and expressed with an originality of touch which makes these poems, at their best, revelatory."
"Fisher's fineness lies in the extraordinary, intimate communication he achieves. He accomplishes this through the medium of a sophisticated, well-mannered artÖ a real respect for his own and his reader's individuality."
"There is no poet alive whose work has challenged or interested me more."
"Roy Fisher's short, thoughtful new book plays to most of his strengths: its quiet, even diffident tones and intricate free verse cadences follow his moods along with the topography and geology of his Midlands locales."
Stephen Burt, TLS