Tony Harrison (April 30, 1937 - ..)
Born: 30th April, 1937
Nationality: English
Profession/Occupation: Poet
Region: Leeds, England, Costa Book Awards

Tony Harrison Facts

Biography

Tony Harrison, (born April 30, 1937, Leeds, West Yorkshire, Eng.), English poet, translator, dramatist, and filmmaker whose work expressed the tension between his working-class background and the formal sophistication of literary verse.

Harrison was educated at Leeds Grammar School and received a degree in linguistics from Leeds University, where he read the Classics. He wrote for the National Theater in London, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and British television, always writing in verse. His first collection of poems, Earthworks, was published in 1964, and he drew acclaim with The Loiners (1970). He traveled widely and continued to write poetry while living in Europe, Africa, and America.

From the School of Eloquence and Other Poems (1976) features some of Harrison's most popular poems and illustrates the enduring influence of his background--in particular, his parents--as well as his concern with poetry itself. Published in 1985, Harrison's most famous poem, "v." (1985), was inspired by the discovery upon his return to England of vandalism at his parents' graves. The poem alludes to Thomas Gray's "An Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard" while addressing the effects of the failure of the mining industry on the culture of the British working class.

Harrison wrote, directed, and narrated versions of his poems, including "v." and "The Shadow of Hiroshima," for film and television. In 1995 The Guardian newspaper commissioned him to write poems from the front line of the armed conflict in Bosnia. The book The Shadow of Hiroshima and Other Film/Poems won the 1996 Heinemann Award, given by the Royal Society of Literature. In 1992 Harrison won the Whitbread Poetry Award (now the Costa Book Award) for The Gaze of the Gorgon.

Top 48 Tony Harrison quotes

I've always had the wish, the need, and the obsession to become a public poet.
Always
Become
Had
Need
Obsession
Poet
Public
Wish
I've written on public matters, but I don't understand how anyone could tout me as a possible poet laureate when I wrote a poem on the abdication of King Charles III or about the sex life of the Royals... anybody who knew my work would know I'm not a contender.
About
Anybody
Anyone
Charles
Could
How
Iii
King
Knew
Know
Laureate
Life
Matters
Me
I think that, as you get older, you want to be freer rather than more bound.
Bound
Freer
Get
I think
More
Older
Rather
Than
Think
Want
You
I think it's the tendency to want to create gods and monotheistic absolutes and absolute certainties that is the continual temptation in human thought - that's the great danger. Every time we create a god, we diminish humanity.
Absolute
Absolutes
Certainties
Create
Danger
Diminish
Every
Every time
God
Gods
Great
Human
Human thought
Humanity
One of the important things about familiar form and metricality is that it draws attention to the physical nature of language: the spell-binding nature of it and the ceremony of articulation.
About
Attention
Ceremony
Draws
Familiar
Form
Important
Important things
Language
Nature
Physical
Things
I believe more in the power of drama than in the power of religion.
Believe
Drama
I believe
More
Power
Religion
Than
A poem, once it's written, is meant to be read with the inner voice of the person who reads it.
Inner
Inner voice
Meant
Meant to be
Once
Person
Poem
Read
Reads
Voice
Who
Written
A lot of my activity in the theatre, and even in writing poems, was a kind of retrospective aggro on the English teacher who wouldn't allow me to read poetry aloud.
Activity
Allow
Aloud
English
English teacher
Even
Kind
Lot
Me
Poems
Poetry
Read
Retrospective
Teacher
I need to look back on my poetic ventures, make sense of them as a whole, and move forward... and to experiment without external demands.
Back
Demands
Experiment
External
Forward
Look
Make
Move
Move forward
Need
Poetic
Sense
Them
Ventures
Honours seem to be the nature of British life. It's horrible. Maybe I'm mad, but the older I get, the less I want to have honours loaded on me.
British
Get
Honours
Horrible
Less
Life
Loaded
Mad
Maybe
Me
Nature
Older
Seem
Want
I really admire the great Japanese artists who could change their name three times in a lifetime. You could get rid of one and renew yourself.
Admire
Artists
Change
Could
Get
Great
Japanese
Lifetime
Name
Really
Renew
Rid
Three
Times
You get early inoculation against the idea of success if you're a poet. When I published my first collection of sonnets, I sold about five copies; now kids study them for A level. Wanting to be successful in that other world of money or fame is not interesting. Poetry isn't like that, and it never has been.
About
Against
Been
Collection
Copies
Early
Fame
First
Five
Get
Has-been
Idea
Interesting
Kids
I wanted to learn Latin and Greek and become a poet and acquire power over language. I only understand this clearly in retrospect, that my ability to study came from a hunger to learn all the resources of articulation.
Ability
Acquire
Become
Came
Clearly
Greek
Hunger
Language
Latin
Learn
Only
Over
Poet
Power
Poetry is all I write, whether for books or readings or for the National Theatre or for the opera house and concert hall or even for TV.
Books
Concert
Concert hall
Even
Hall
House
I write
National
National theatre
Opera
Opera house
Poetry
Readings
Theatre
It's been an obsession with me from childhood, the horrors of the twentieth century.
Been
Century
Childhood
Horrors
Me
Obsession
Twentieth
Twentieth century
Looking back, fire images have been constant in my poetry. As a boy, it was my job to light the fire each morning, and I remember the celebratory bonfires at the end of the war. It was from staring into fire that I began my first poetry.
Back
Been
Began
Boy
Constant
Each
Each morning
End
Fire
First
I remember
Images
Job
Light
There's a kind of despair about whether art can really do anything, but you have to incorporate that despair into the way you work. I try to soak my work in my sense of futility and fury.
About
Anything
Art
Despair
Fury
Futility
Incorporate
Kind
Really
Sense
Soak
Try
Way
Whether
The imagination has its limits, and you have to face up to that.
Face
Imagination
Limits
Up
You
I'd rather climb Everest than go for a walk in the park.
Climb
Everest
Go
Park
Rather
Than
Walk
I was brought up on music hall, and at the same time, I was studying Greek at the age of 12.
Age
Brought
Greek
Hall
Music
Same
Same time
Studying
Time
Up
I like a direct relationship between actor and audience.
Actor
Audience
Between
Direct
Like
Relationship
For me, there is a paradox in poetry, which is like the paradox in tragedy. You have the most terrible subject, but it's in a form that is so sensually gratifying that it connects the surviving heart to the despairing intellect.
Connects
Despairing
Form
Gratifying
Heart
Intellect
Like
Me
Most
Paradox
Poetry
Subject
Surviving
Terrible
I'm hoping to have a ninth decade like Matisse's.
Decade
Hoping
Like
Ninth
You litter poems with too much learning when you're younger.
Learning
Litter
Much
Poems
Too
Too much
You
Younger
I hate being called poet/dramatist/translator/director. 'Poet' covers it all for me.
Being
Covers
Hate
Me
Poet
It is always better to write for the whole of society than for the poetry-reading public.
Always
Better
Public
Society
Than
Whole
Write
I spent a lot of time on recce. It is a kind of creative chaos, but I like the sense of creative serendipity.
Chaos
Creative
Kind
Like
Lot
Sense
Serendipity
Spent
Time
'Night Mail' belongs quintessentially to the age of steam. It is impossible to simply go with the idea of remaking it.
Age
Belongs
Go
Idea
Impossible
Mail
Night
Simply
Steam
Coming from a very inarticulate family made me try to speak for those who can't express themselves and created a need for articulation at its most ceremonial - poetry.
Coming
Created
Express
Family
Made
Me
Most
Need
Poetry
Speak
Themselves
Those
Try
Very
I love being on the road with others, with a camera, but also being alone writing poetry.
Alone
Also
Being
Being alone
Camera
I love
Love
Others
Poetry
Road
Writing
I've realised darkness and light are inter-dependent, just as death is an enhancer of life.
Darkness
Death
Just
Life
Light
Realised
I was well read and knew languages, but I didn't want to become Ezra Pound. I wanted to write poetry that people like my parents might respond to.
Become
Knew
Languages
Like
Might
Parents
People
Poetry
Pound
Read
Respond
Want
Wanted
Well
Theatre has to be theatrical. It has to draw attention to itself, like poetry.
Attention
Draw
Itself
Like
Poetry
Theatre
Theatrical
I hate the anglicanisation of culture, the idea that culture is genteel. It's not genteel.
Culture
Hate
Idea
I hate everything about writing except doing it.
About
Doing
Everything
Except
Hate
Writing
The ear will surrender even at those times when the eye wants to close, when the eye doesn't want to watch.
Close
Ear
Even
Eye
Surrender
Those
Times
Want
Wants
Watch
Will
I am capable of bad taste - deliberately.
Am
Bad
Bad taste
Capable
Deliberately
I am
Taste
You can make poems out of anger as well as tenderness. You can make poetry out of anything. It can be the ugliest of emotions. It doesn't have to be sweetness and light.
Anger
Anything
Emotions
Light
Make
Out
Poems
Poetry
Sweetness
Tenderness
Ugliest
Well
You
I have always loved radio as a medium.
Always
Loved
Medium
Radio
Of course you have to provide for the vulnerable and the children, but also, the vulnerable and the children need art in some form or another. You need spiritual experiences that, I think, forms of art give best.
Also
Another
Art
Best
Children
Course
Experiences
Form
Forms
Give
I think
Need
Provide
Some
I'm not the sort of person who reads much about himself.
About
Himself
Much
Person
Reads
Sort
Who
I think poems belong as much in the news pages as the literary pages. A lot of people throw aside the literary pages! Whereas everybody looks at the news section.
Aside
Belong
Everybody
I think
Literary
Looks
Lot
Much
News
Pages
People
Poems
Section
Think
Why shouldn't poetry address what happened yesterday and be published in the newspaper?
Address
Happened
Newspaper
Poetry
Published
Why
Yesterday
Yes, I've got inwardness and tenderness, but I also get angry and vituperative, and you have to honour that as well.
Also
Angry
Get
Got
Honour
Tenderness
Well
Yes
You
The first thing you see in my hallway is a large 18th-century bust of Milton, who stares at me as I watch TV and reminds me of the grave and committed role of the poet. Although he was blind, Milton had one of the most unswerving gazes of all English poets.
Although
Blind
Bust
Committed
English
First
First thing
Grave
Had
Hallway
He
Large
Me
Milton
The Greek tragic mask is one of my main metaphors for the role of the poet. The eyes of the tragic mask are always open to witness even the worst, and the mouth is always open to make poetry from it. Neither ever close.
Always
Close
Even
Ever
Eyes
Greek
Main
Make
Mask
Metaphors
Mouth
Neither
Open
Poet
I often find myself quoting from Victor Hugo after one of my theatrical ventures. 'Now that my play is a failure,' he once said, 'I find I love it all the more.' I first quoted that after 'Square Rounds' at the Olivier in 1992.
After
Failure
Find
First
He
Hugo
I love
Love
More
Myself
Now
Often
Once
Play
Statues are one of the ways I try to test the traditions of European culture against the most modern destructive forces. I often make a point of seeking them out and have used them as mouthpieces in my film poetry, as with Heinrich Heine in 'The Gaze of the Gorgon.'
Against
Culture
Destructive
European
Film
Forces
Gaze
Make
Modern
Most
Often
Out
Poetry
Point

Tony Harrison essays

Read more informative topics on our blog
Article on The Relationship Between Zones And Margins Through Language
Furthermore, Tony Harrison's V is exploring the relationship among centres and margins through language. Harrison uses terminology in order to not simply give tone to the operating class, yet also to challenge dominant ideologies and dominant sounds which are sure up with the use of Standard The english language. Previously discussed in reference to The Lonely Londoners, Standard British is associated with power and elitism and therefore ‘places while subordinate all the utterances that are literally or perhaps figuratively between inverted commas' (). This can be challenged..
The Designs of Loss and Isolation in Looking for Dad as well as the Sick Equation by Brian as Well as Extended Distance by simply Tony Harrison
The Themes of Loss and Isolation in Looking for Father and the Ill Equation by Brian as Well as Long Length by Tony HarrisonWhen ever exploring poetry it is clear to see that there are a large number of analyticaland poetic equipment used to emphasise meaning and theme throughout theverses. The 3 poems that employ types of this will be 'Looking pertaining to dad'and 'The sick equation' by Brian Patten and 'Long distance' simply by TonyHarrison. There are many different ways to express feelings throughthe usage of poetry and the main feature in the three or more..
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