Roy Fisher's Mysticism

  • Ian Pople

Student thesis: Phd


Abstract University of ManchesterIan Stewart Pople PhDRoy Fisher's Mysticism This thesis takes its cue from Roy Fisher's comment, in 1971, that his poems are 'to do with getting around in the mind'. This getting around, however, is not quite the simple process of 'propositions or explorations in aesthetic ideas', which Fisher suggests. This thesis discusses the relationship between Fisher's poetry and the empirical reality which his poems actually do describe and engage with. The thesis suggests that this engagement is of a mystical nature, in which Fisher's sense of linguistic play is allied to an acute awareness of instabilities in both the self and the empirical world. Such play in language and content makes Fisher's poetry a unique site, in contemporary poetry, for his further engagement with a mystery which is ineffable. Yet, this ineffability is held and controlled by Fisher so that it does not have a theological teleology. Fisher's poetry does not point towards a mystery which finds its manifestation and exploration in ways which are recognised within a contemporary religious framework. The thesis is organised into four chapters. The first chapter outlines some of the history and context of Roy Fisher's writing. It outlines the early critical reception of Fisher's first substantial publication, City, and his publications in the nineteen sixties. It then discusses some of the interviews that Fisher has given. These interviews are placed in the context of the critical reception of Fisher's work, during this time, that aligned Fisher with the avant-garde and 'Linguistically-Innovative' poetry of the period. In the second chapter, the thesis examines Fisher's relationship with the 'self' in his poetry. In the light of a sense of instability perceived in the self in Fisher's writing, the idea of the 'mystical' is introduced and defined. This is particularly relevant in the light of Fisher's tussles with the empirical world. A further exploration of the 'other' in Fisher's poetry is undertaken in the third chapter, which examines Fisher's relationship with the urban, the abject and the woman. In the final chapter, Fisher's long poem from 1986, A Furnace is discussed in the light of the foregoing, to highlight its own exploration of mysticism. The second half of the thesis consists of a portfolio of original poetry
Date of Award31 Dec 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJohn Mcauliffe (Supervisor) & Howard Booth (Supervisor)


  • Roy Fisher
  • Mysticism
  • Abject
  • The Urban

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