BOOKS FICTION: POETRY IN BRIEF
Sunday 17 September 1995
Fond of high art and low jinks, Greek tragedy and Blackpool pantomime, inclusive politics and exclusive craftsmanship, Harrison is the unofficial laureate of radical England, of the insulted and the injured, forever turning up the Houyhnhnm in the alleged Yahoo, and vice versa. This volume brings together the latest of his film/poems, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima, with "A Maybe Day in Kazakstan", "The Gaze of the Gorgon", "The Blasphemer's Banquet" (Rushdie and the fatwa), and "Loving Memory", which looks at death and our ways of dealing with it. "Strange how poetry most people think a bore,/poetry that people of our period despise/or if they don't despise it just ignore,/seems to surface fast when someone dies".
All these stories were kicked off by fascinating particulars (pigeons standing in for peace doves, a marble statue of Heine in Corfu, Naples' amazing funerary customs) before getting themselves hitched up to a Gray's Elegy-like disquisition on universals. "If art can't cope/it's just another form of dope". As poetry it's not in the same league as his best sonnets. As an intelligent use of the TV soapbox and shadow theatre, however, it's vastly welcome. William Scammell
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food