Roy Fisher

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For the American journalist and Chicago Daily News Editor-in-Chief (1918–1999), see Roy M. Fisher.

Roy Fisher (born 1930) is a British poet and jazz pianist. He was one of the first British writers to absorb the poetics of William Carlos Williams and the Black Mountain poets into the British poetic tradition. Fisher was a key precursor of the British Poetry Revival.


Fisher was born in Handsworth, Birmingham and studied at the University of Birmingham. His early work, including City (1961), a work in which he applies the lessons of Williams' Paterson to the city of Birmingham, was admired in the United States but more or less ignored in his native country. It was because of the negative connotations for outsiders of "Birmingham" that the city's name did not once appear in his early long poem City .[1] In 2005 Roy Fisher was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.[2]


Fisher finally began to gain recognition in Britain with the publication of Poems 1955-1980 (1981). Between 1963 and 1971, he worked as Head of English and Drama at Bordesley College of Education. He then moved to the Department of American Studies at Keele University. He retired in 1982, after which he worked as a freelance writer and as a musician.

Fisher's later works include the long poem A Furnace (1986), Poems 1955-1987 (1988), The Dow Low Drop (1996), and Standard Midland (2010).

Outside the mainstream, Fisher is regarded by poets such as John Ash, Alan Baker,[3] Peter Robinson and critics like Marjorie Perloff as one of the most important post-war English poets. News for the Ear: A Homage to Roy Fisher edited by Peter Robinson and Robert Sheppard appeared in 2000, and a book of critical essays, The Thing about Roy Fisher, edited by John Kerrigan and Peter Robinson, was published the same year.[4]


  • City (Migrant Press, 1961)
  • Ten Interiors with Various Figures (Tarasque Press, 1966)
  • The Ship’s Orchestra (Fulcrum Press, 1966)
  • Collected Poems (Fulcrum Press, 1968)
  • Matrix (Fulcrum Press, 1971)
  • The Cut Pages (Fulcrum Press, 1971; Shearsman, 1986)
  • The Thing About Joe Sullivan: Poems 1971-1977 (Carcanet Press, 1978)
  • Poems 1955-1980 (Oxford University Press, 1980)
  • A Furnace (Oxford University Press, 1986)
  • Poems 1955-1987 (Oxford University Press, 1988)
  • Birmingham River (Oxford University Press, 1994)
  • It Follows That (Pig Press, 1994)
  • The Dow Low Drop: New & Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 1996)
  • The Long & the Short of It: Poems 1955-2005 (Bloodaxe Books, 2005)
  • Standard Midland (Bloodaxe Books, 2010)
  • Selected Poems ed. August Kleinzahler (Flood Editions, US, 2010)
  • The Long & the Short of It: Poems 1955-2010 (Bloodaxe Books, 2012)


  1. ^ "Letters". The Guardian (London). 1 November 2003. 
  2. ^ "Royal Society of Literature All Fellows". Royal Society of Literature. Retrieved 8 August 2010. 
  3. ^ Litter - Alan Baker reviews "The Long and the Short of It"
  4. ^

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