When in his seventieth year Roy Fisher published Interviews Through Time (2000), he added and Selected Prose, which meant in effect three pieces: 'Antebiography', 'Roy Fisher on Roy Fisher' and 'Talks for Words'. The enlarged second edition of Interviews Through Time (2013), a volume of interviews only, made it possible for those three pieces to join many others in this first substantial gathering of Roy Fisher's occasional prose writings. An Easily Bewildered Child: Occasional Prose 1963-2013 brings together all his rare autobiographical sketches, the memoirs of his life as a jazz pianist, his tributes to musicians, writers, and painters of various kinds, a number of his book reviews, and comments on classic forebears such as John Cowper Powys, Ezra Pound, the Black Mountain poets, and Basil Bunting. All of these writings, as Fisher notes, 'owe their origins to commissions, suggestions or various forms of pressure from friends'. Together they provide a unique guide to the complex sources and influences on such distinctive works such as City, The Ship's Orchestra, and A Furnace as well as Fisher's oeuvre of individual poems.
As Peter Robinson notes in his editor's Introduction, these writings in their various ways provide 'essential aids to those ramblers' who 'choose to stray' among the poetry and imaginative prose of a key contemporary English poet.
Roy Fisher was born in 1930 in Handsworth, Birmingham. He won a scholarship to the local grammar school, and later secured a place at Birmingham University where he read English and first published poems in the student magazine. To earn a living and support a family, he went into teaching, first at a grammar school in Newton Abbot, Devon, in the 1950s; he then returned to Birmingham and a job in a college of education. He was principal lecturer and head of department of English and Drama at Bordesley College of Education in Birmingham from 1963 to 1971, when he became a member of the Department of American Studies at Keele University. Through these three decades he pursued a second career as a semi-professional jazz musician. Since retiring he has lived in the Peak District. His early pamphlets, including City (1961) and Ten Interiors with Various Figures (1966) were first brought together in Collected Poems 1968. A larger gathering of further books and pamphlets, such as The Ship's Orchestra (1966), Matrix (1971), some of The Cut Pages (1971) and The Thing about Joe Sullivan (1978), appeared from OUP as Poems 1955 - 1980 (enlarged paperback edition, Poems 1955 - 1987). The long poem A Furnace also appeared from OUP in 1986, as did Birmingham River (1994). In 1996, Bloodaxe Books published The Dow Low Drop: New and Selected Poems, and followed it with The Long and the Short of It: Poems 1955 - 2005 and Standard Midland in 2010. Flood Editions of Chicago have also published a Selected Poems for the US market.
Author Note Introduction Note on the Text I. Antebiography Meanwhile Antebiography Brum Born Talks for Words The Morden Tower My Trip to Brighton Six Towns Memoir of Richard Caddel At the Funeral of Stuart Mills License My Roving Hands II. Roy Fisher on Roy Fisher Poet on Writing Note on The Cut Pages Roy Fisher writes - Handsworth Compulsions Preface to A Furnace Birmingham's What I Think With: Programme Note Reply to Paul Lester Inside A Various Art Roy Fisher on Roy Fisher III. On Poets and Others Death by Adjectives David Prentice The Green Fuse Mary Fitton's Foreshores On John Cowper Powys' Letters Thomas Campion On a Study of Dada On Ezra Pound Debt to Mr Bunting At a Tangent On a Study of Robert Creeley On Kenneth Rexroth's An Autobiographical Novel Gael Turnbull Foreword to Spleen (Nicholas Moore/Baudelaire) Introduction to Jeff Nuttall's Selected Poems Concerning Joseph Brodsky Coat Hanger A Checklist of Roy Fisher's Occasional Prose by Derek Slade
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