Paperback review: Selected Poems, By Tony Harrison

A powerful voice bursting with passion, courage and anger

Lesley McDowell
Sunday 17 February 2013 01:00
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Class warfare, the last vestiges of Empire, generational conflict, the importance of the dialect of Northern England, international politics, fathers and sons, mothers and sons: Tony Harrison ranges through them all, with rage and fearlessness.

It is almost 30 years since the publication of "v.", the poem that probably brought him to public consciousness more than any other because of its liberal use of swear words; a furious yet also sad diatribe against the social attitudes of the Thatcher era. It marked Harrison as a political poet but his stage work, comprising translations of classics and libretti for opera, has occupied his considerable poetic powers just as much. A moving, revealing, important collection.

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