Poetry Book Society Special Commendation
Slakki is Old Norse for a shallow depression among hills: ‘Not much of a valley. A Slack,’ writes 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 writes 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’sCollected 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.