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Paraphrases

Roy Fisher

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.

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.

Roy Fisher