for Peter Ryan
Dear Mr Fisher I am writing a thesis on your work. But am unable to obtain texts. I have articles by Davie, D., and Mottram, E., But not your Books since booksellers I have approached refuse to take my order saying they can no longer afford to handle 'this type of business'. It is too late! for me to change my subject to the work of a more popular writer, so please Mr Fisher you must help me since I face the alternatives of failing my degree or repaying the whole of my scholarship money. . . Dear Mr Fisher although I have been unable to read much of your work (to get it that is) I am a great admirer of it and your landscapes have become so real to me I am convinced I have, in fact, become you. I have never, however, seen any photograph of you, and am most curious to have an idea of your appearance, beyond what my mirror, of course, tells me. The cover of your Collected Poems (reproduced in the Guardian, November 1971) shows upwards of fifty faces; but which is yours? Are you the little boy at the front, and if so have you changed much since them? Dear Mr Fisher recently while studying selections from a modern anthology with one of my GCE groups I came across your interestingly titled 'Starting to Make a Tree'. After the discussion I felt strongly you were definitely holding something back in this poem though I can't quite reach it. Are you often in Rugby? If you are, perhaps we could meet and I could try at least to explain. Cordially, Avis Tree. PS. Should we arrange a rendezvous I'm afraid I wouldn't know who to look out for as I've never unfortunately seen your photograph. But I notice you were born in 1930 the same year as Ted Hughes. Would I be right in expecting you to resemble him, more or less? --Dear Ms Tree, It's true I'm in Rugby quite often, but the train goes through without stopping. Could you fancy standing outside the UP Refreshment Room a few times so that I could learn to recognize you? If you could just get hold of my four books, and wave them, then I'd know it was you. As for my own appearance I suppose it inclines more to the Philip Larkin side of Ted Hughes's looks. . . See if you think so as I go by. . . Dear Mr Fisher I have been commissioned to write a short critical book on your work but find that although I have a full dossier of reviews etcetera I don't have access to your books. Libraries over here seem just not to have bought them in. Since the books are quite a few years old now I imagine they'll all have been remaindered some while back? Or worse, pulped? So can you advise me on locating second-hand copies, not too expensively I hope? Anyway, yours, with apologies and respect. . . Dear Mr Fisher I am now so certain I am you that it is obvious to me that the collection of poems I am currently working on must be your own next book! Can you let me know-- who is to publish it and exactly when it will be appearing? I shouldn't like there to be any trouble over contracts, 'plagiarism' etcetera; besides which it would be a pity to think one of us was wasting time and effort. How far have you got? Please help me. I do think this is urgent. . .
From The Dow Low Drop: New and Selected Poems by Roy Fisher, published by Bloodaxe Books. Copyright © 1996 by Roy Fisher. Reprinted by permission of Bloodaxe Books. All rights reserved.