Peter Symes in Conversation. The film / poems of Tony Harrison.
An illustrated journey through the film / poems of Tony Harrison with Peter Symes, a long- time collaborator with Tony Harrison and the director, editor and producer of many of the film / poems. Peter Symes will be in conversation with the retrospectives curator David McLachlan and will be accompanied by clips from many of the film / poems to illustrate and discuss the creative practice, working methods and themes of the film / poems.
There will be an opportunity for a Q&A and Tony Harrison will be present at the event. At the end of the evening, there will also be a book signing.
“I am thrilled that there is a season of Tony Harrison’s film / poems, most of which have only been seen once. It will offer everyone the chance to reassess and enjoy his innovative and powerful contribution to the genre, and hopefully may lead to the work becoming more easily available.” – Peter Symes
Tony Harrison is one of the most distinguished and important poets of his generation. Whether through books, performance, theatre, film, newspapers or TV his poetry has always embraced the past, often through his working-class roots or the myths and dramas of ancient Greece, to tackle, confront and challenge the present.
Often controversial, dividing opinion and embracing the challenge to the powers that govern, Harrison’s poetry, no matter the format, always conveys a message, whether political or personal, for the public at large.
The film / poems were made between 1984 and 2002 and primarily shown on the BBC and Chanel 4. They were screened at peak times, often attracting audiences in the millions. Many of the original television screenings of the film / poems initiated national debate, division and discussion and in many cases controversy, such as the conservative outcry at V or the pleas of the Archbishop of Canterbury to have The Blasphemer’s Banquet postponed. The film / poem became national front-page news.
Dealing with themes and issues such as censorship, the fall of the working class, the collapse of socialism, life, death and memory in the community, the destructive violence of governments, the ever presence of fascism and the fragility of Europe. The power and intensity of these works continues to resonate, engage and respond to the times.
This is a unique opportunity to see these rarely screened works and experience the power of the film / poem as created by one of the greatest technical and forceful poets of our times.
“Poetry is all that I write, whether for books, readings, theatre, opera, concert hall or TV. All of these activities are part of the same quest for a public poetry, though in that word “public” I would never want to exclude inwardness.” – Tony Harrison (1987)