Flood Editions

A Furnace by Roy Fisher

In new titles on September 30, 2018 at 3:00 am


A Furnace by Roy Fisher

Edited and with an introduction by Peter Robinson

ISBN 978-0-9981695-5-2 $15.95

Now available from Flood Editions and SPD Books

“Perhaps the last great modernist poem, Roy Fisher’s A Furnace offers an alternately brightening and thickening materialization of landscape, history, and thought. From its opening bus ride along industrial roads in Birmingham, England to its final image of snails creeping up fennel stalks, A Furnace is a surprising, prodigious, spiraling yet hewn work. Here it is as if Blake were crossed with William Carlos Williams: Fisher’s visionary, often jeremiac incandescence aligns with a Blakean poetics of the bounding line, the intensely seen and wrought, a metaphysics made material, forged in the cauldron of his own making. Yet Fisher’s commitment to particulars, to ‘no ideas but in things,’ to the interlocking logic of city, history, environment, and sensuous perception—not to mention his unanticipatable yet always right prosody—equally evoke Williams.

“Like Williams and Charles Olson, Fisher was a poetic archaeologist of place and of his own capacious mind; unlike those poets, he needed no master mythic persona to articulate or mediate his complex finds, ‘grave goods,’ flakes of the real from ironworks, gasworks, fields, tunnels, the residuum of the Roman and medieval cities haunting Birmingham’s site. For all his registration of the built and of material history, Fisher is equally attentive to the shape of clouds, ‘the massing of a mood,’ the gods one might have thought departed. One finds here as well a rerouted pastoral, an unsentimental pathos, a profound tenderness—for an old working woman on the street, for Fisher’s own humble ancestors, for the figure of Achilles, brick, tarmac, warehouses, hillsides, specific rivers, the masses of men and women estranged from their own conditions and histories. For all his forging fire, the poet emerges as akin to the quality of light he catches, ‘a pressing / medium, steady to a purpose.’ To think that in Thatcher’s England, Fisher was writing A Furnace: forged, incised, in which ‘a brilliance strikes out perpetually.’”—Maureen N. Mclane

Read an excerpt from the book here.

Roy Fisher (1930-2017) was a British poet and jazz musician. Raised in Birmingham, England, he worked as a pianist as well as a teacher of literature in schools and colleges, including the University of Keele, Staffordshire. Beginning with City (1961), he published more than thirty books and pamphlets of poetry, including collaborations with visual artists such as Ronald King and Tom Phillips. His Selected Poems was published by Flood Editions in 2011.


Photograph of Roy Fisher by Jonathan Williams, from the Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Collection.

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