Don Paterson Tony Harrison and the Language of Authority ‘And so it seemed to me then that the greatest gift I could acquire for myself was the gift of articulation, the treasure of eloquence, the power over words, the power of words. ‘ So wrote Tony Harrison in his essay ‘Facing up to the muses’ in the Bloodaxe Critical Anthology of his work, explaining the origins of his strong belief in the power of language, and particularly poetry.
Tony Harrison, though he has written for both television and the theatre, has insisted that he only ever writes poetry and that hrough this poetry he gives a voice to those who do not have the eloquence to speak for themselves. In this essay I will explain the ways in which Harrison’s poetry gives a cultural authority to the working-class voice. Being a man who was part of both the literary and the working-class worlds, but also alienated from both, particularly by his language, Harrison’s poetry speaks for both sides.
Harrison demonstrates his mastery of classical poetry by his use of classical forms and allusions, but subverts these forms for his own purposes, namely, to demonstrate that the working-class voice can ave eloquence too. His mastery of both kinds of language demonstrates his authority to speak for both sides. However Harrison also not only challenges authority through his political poetry but also challenges the accepted ‘language of authority, demanding why it should be confined to ‘Received pronunciation’ and the language of Oxbridge graduates.
Harrison’s poetry, however, most strongly reveals his own ‘language of authority since it is impossible to ignore. The eloquence, anger, invective and simplicity of his words reveal an authority to speak for those who do not have oice and show to be true his opinion that ‘language could take on anything and everything. ‘ Harrison’s belief in the power of language stems from his working-class upbringing and Grammar School and university education.
Being a ‘scholarship boy meant that he went to school with a strong Leeds accent and was derided by his teachers, however his education meant that he was alienated from his uneducated parents and family as he grew older. Harrison discusses his feelings of alienation in his sonnet sequence The School of Eloquence but also seeks to demonstrate how eloquence’ can liberate and a lack of eloquence confine people.
In ‘National Trust’ Harrison uses the metaphor of a dumb man tortured by those in authority to remind us of his reasons for writing: The dumb go down in history and disappear And not one gentleman ‘s been brought to book: Mes den hep tavas a gollas y dyr (Cornish) – the tongueless man gets his land took. ‘ [Line 13-16] The use of Cornish in this poem shows Harrison’s championing of language that differs from the standard language of authority. Through the use of the dumb man the people’s culture has no authority and so is ignored.
However Harrison not only uses the language here, but uses it eloquently, and to remind us of a social injustice, thereby giving those with another language back their authority. Having a different language is compared to being tongueless’, something which Harrison is familiar with and which he discusses in other poems in the sequence, including ‘Bookends I and II’. In these sonnets Harrison describes his relationship with his father after the death of his mother and their frustration at not being able to find a message for her headstone.
The poem effectively conveys the frustration that not having a command f language can produce; in the poem neither father nor son has the necessary authority over language in their grief to produce a terse’ description of the woman they both loved, and so are reduced to arguing about it. Harrison’s conclusion that his father’s words express his love best reveals the irony of the way in which he has to some extent looked down on his father for bad English and lack of education.
His father’s ‘mis-spelt, mawkish, stylistically appalling’ words are here given emotional and cultural validity as better than anything his ‘bright boy at description’ can come up with. Tony Harrison’s poetry seeks to attack the authority of so-called ‘received pronunciation’ and thereby show that working-class or northern voices can and should have the same authority. In two more sonnets from the school of eloquence, ‘Them and [Uz] I and II’ Harrison makes fun of Received Pronunciation and the way in which English language and literature were taught to him.
Mocked by his teacher for the way in which he pronounced the literature of ‘Our glorious heritage’ Harrison was sidelined into playing comedy roles such as The Porter in Macbeth and called You barbarian, T. W.! The sarcastic response ‘He was nicely spoken’, pointing out that the teacher’s education and posh voice have not necessarily made him polite, demonstrates the humour that makes Harrison’s poetry so accessible. Also the fact that Harrison is able to mock and replicate both Received Pronunciation and his own Leeds working class voice gives him the authority to comment on both.
Harrison seeks to ‘occupy your lousy leasehold Poetry and has set about doing so. In ‘Them and [Uz] II and in other poems Harrison deliberately makes the poetry hard to read without a Leeds accent. The title of the poem transfers the authority of Received Pronunciation to the Leeds working-class voice. The putting of ‘Uz’ in square brackets is a pronunciation guide that cannot be ignored. Harrison literally turns the tables on his former teachers and says ‘RIP RP’, we say Luz] not [As].
Poet Douglas Dunn calls this occupation of poetry the ‘scholarship boys revenge’ and John Lucas in his essay ‘Speaking for England’ describes the embarrassment of reading ‘Bookends l’ and the rhyming of the words gas and pass, ‘For of course it’s only a rhyme if you haven’t ‘doffed your flat a’s’… l have read the poem on a number of occasions and always the ecision about whether to enunciate the rhyme or not comes as a moment of pure embarrassment. The majority of the people reading Harrison’s poetry will most probably feel the same embarrassment as Lucas since they will not be from a working class Leeds background and so in this respect Harrison has reclaimed poetry for those who do not use RP as well as giving emotional intensity and authority to the working class voice through his poetry. Harrison rejected the view that someone with Independent saying that ‘A poem, once it’s written, is meant to be read with the inner voice of the person who reads it.
However he admits that his celebrated restoration of the Mysteries Plays for the National Theatre deliberately reclaimed them for the part of the country in which they were originally written. ‘God in my version speaks the same language as the people he is talking to. ‘ In this extract from The Nativity God even uses the Yorkshire t’ instead of the’: God: A female shalt thou have to feere – Here shall I make of thy left rib. She alone shall be thy dear To keep thee warm, through night in t’crib.
The fact that Harrison makes the voice of God distinctly Northern and straightforward n The Mysteries gives the ultimate authority to this kind of voice, and recalls the way in which the plays would originally have been produced, with local artisans taking the roles and saying the words in their own distinct accents. For Harrison the theatre is not different from poetry, it is simply performance poetry, meant to be read aloud (as much of Harrison’s poetry is) and therefore with the added authority of the spoken voice.
Harrison is always aware of the other point of view when writing his poetry, however. In one of his most famous poems, Harrison attacks his own profession hrough the voice of a skinhead alter-ego to show how being shut out of something makes people turn aggressively against it. The skinhead attacks Harrison’s profession saying Who needs yer fucking poufy words. Ah write me own. ‘ suggesting that the obscene language that he sprays on walls has as much validity as Harrison’s poetry. Harrison goes on to demonstrate that this is so: So, what’s a cri-de-coeur, cunt?
Cant you speak The language that yer mam spoke. Think of ‘er! Although the poem, shown on Channel 4 in 1987, is famous for ‘bad language’, meaning the many four-letter words that appear in it, it is partly these which give the oem and the characters their eloquence. The skinhead in V. ‘ expresses himself very well, using his own language to discuss his own problems. In fact the skinhead appears to be more convincing in the first part of the poem than the narrator, who presumably represents the way Harrison speaks now.
When compared to the skinhead’s expressive descriptions of how ‘Folk on t’fucking dole ‘ave got about as much scope to aspire above the shit they’re dumped in, cunt, as coal aspires to chucked on tfucking fire’ Harrison’s somewhat weedy, liberal protests, ‘all these Vs: against! against! against! are lacking in authority. It is ironically only when Harrison begins to adopt some of the skinhead’s characteristics of speech, such as the swearing and invective, and combining them with his own classical knowledge that he is able to speak authoritatively about what the skinhead’s graffiti means and why he has put it there. s he does with the skinhead in V. ‘ In ‘A Cold Coming Harrison takes on the voice of a charred Iraqi soldier, basing his poem on a famous photograph taken during the Gulf War, and uses this voice to discuss the war from a new point of view: ‘So Press RECORD! I want to reach The warring nations with my speech. Don’t look away! I know it’s hard To keep regarding one so charred… ‘ Harrison deliberately makes the voice of the dead soldier unexpectedly animated; he takes control of the interview, telling Harrison ‘IVe picked on you’ and to ‘Go away when he is finished.
His thoughts as he lies dead are about sex, loneliness and unfairness, but Harrison is not tugging at the heart-strings, at least not in the traditional way. The Soldier is mournful (‘such a longing to be beside my wife in bed before I died’) but also sarcastic (‘excuse a skull’s sarcastic manner! ) and sympathy for him comes from the reader’s identification with this voice. Rather than simply making the reader feel sorry for the soldier (the photograph published alongside the poem does this anyway) the poet has made us listen to him.
In The Loiners Harrison again takes on different voices to discuss sexual politics in post-war Leeds. We often hear the speech of Harrison’s Mum and Dad in his poetry as well, saying things that, though they could not have actually said them, sound like things that they might say. Harrison’s ‘Mam’ and ‘Dad’ to some extent become emblems of working-class suffering nd hardship through his poetry. Discussion of their problems and inability to voice them allows Harrison to discuss his own personal issues and the problems facing British society.
Harrison is always giving voices to those who cannot speak for themselves effectively thereby giving them cultural authority, making not only their opinions and views but also their way of speaking as valid and eloquent as the middle-class, educated voice. Harrison is in a good position to speak authoritatively for both the working-class world of his childhood and the educated literary world that he now occupies because e has a command of the languages of both.
Harrison’s authority comes through his own learning and his ability to use classical references and classical forms with a working-class voice. Dunn’s ‘scholarship boys revenge’ refers to Harrison’s ability to subvert classical forms and use them to his own purposes. The School of Eloquence poems are all examples of the sixteen-line Meredithian sonnet, written in iambic pentameter. He uses simple forms such as this to appeal to as many people as possible.
In ‘Confessional Poetry Harrison specifically addresses the critics who would ay this was not a suitable form to use when speaking for his Northern family: But your father was a simple working man, Theyll say, and didn’t speak in those full rhymes. His words when they came would scarcely scan. Mi dad’s did scan, like yours do, many times! [Line 5-8] a normal conversation, proves that the Northern working-class voice can have music and fluency and fit as well into classical rules as the language of the middle-classes.
However Harrison does not always use the sonnet form as it normally would be used. Part of his ‘occupation’ of poetry is to use the established forms in subversive ways; in Them and [Uz] he uses quoted speech and interrupted lines, and while Harrison sticks rigidly to the stylistic rules of the sonnet he certainly does not use the form to describe a longed-for lover, but fills his sonnets with invective and dark humour. In ‘Me Tarzan’ Harrison also alludes to the amount of learning that it has taken for him to acquire his ‘language of authority.
He describes his own youth spent acquiring the skill that enables him now to put references to ‘De Bello Gallico’ and ‘Cissy-bleeding- ro! ‘ in his poetry, missing out on going out tartin’ or t’flicks’ because he’s ‘gorra Latin rose’. The automatic authority, which being able to allude to his classical knowledge gives Harrison is clearly hard-won, but is of the utmost importance if he is to ‘occupy the poetry and culture of the middle-class and use it for his own purposes.
Tony Harrison’s words get their authority by being impossible to ignore and by appealing to a wide range of people. When V. ‘ was broadcast on Channel 4 its director Richard Eyre wrote in an essay entitled ‘Such men are dangerous’ that Whatever was invoked by the poem, it was not indifference’, which can be seen by he many letters of complaint and newspaper stories about the poem’s shocking nature. However Harrison does not set out purely to shock and the wide publication of his poetry is part of a wish to create ‘public poetry that can be meaningful for all.
In his poetry Harrison deliberately talks about subjects he knows about and forms surprising, well-formed arguments, but he also fills his poems with rage, invective and humour. The poetry is up-to-date in its use of diction but deliberately classical in form; eschewing ‘difficult poetry Harrison uses the mass media to publish his essage. The authority of Harrison’s language comes directly from his ability to be passionate, funny, angry and wise in a voice that is faithful to his working class origins and speaks for those who do not have a voice.
Alzheimer’s: Food,Medicine and Public Health
Alzheimer’s: Food,Medicine and Public Health.
Alzheimer’s Essay Requirements
1. Condition: Alzheimer’s 2. Go to website www.healthypeople.gov Type in Alzheimer’s Review Healthy People 2020 goals and current status of Alzheimer’s in America. How common is Alzheimer’s, who is most impacted, and is its incidence, prevalence and /or mortality increasing or decreasing? 3. Discuss the role food/diet plays in the pathophysiology and prevalence of Alzheimer’s. What specific foods or food groups may be particularly beneficial for preventing or curing Alzheimer’s? 4. Identify public health best practices for addressing the nutrition-related public health problem of Alzheimer’s. Highlight at least two innovative community interventions/strategies to promote healthy diets that would impact Alzheimer’s. 5. Analyze whether national policies help or hinder efforts to promote health in our country in general and as related to Alzheimer’s. 6. Discuss cultural issues and other special/disparate population topics which may impact dietary/food choices and implications for public health interventions related Alzheimer’s. As seen from above, this essay deals Food, Medicine and Public Health This essay will provide readers with a greater understanding of the role food plays in Alzheimer’s. The essay will examine the intersection between the American diet and food system, the medical system and public health efforts to promote healthier lifestyles. Focus areas will include basics about nutrition and a healthy diet, as it pertains to Alzheimer’s, its etiologies and pathophysiology, how our diets and our food system are contributing to Alzheimer’s in our country, how food can be a medicine/cure for Alzheimer’s, how public health is impacted by our food system and diets, and how medical, public health and food production interventions should be modified to promote health and well-being. Essay goals: 1. Readers will gain an understanding of Alzheimer’s, and the role food/nutrients play in the pathophysiology and prevention/cure of the disease. 2. Readers will become educated supporters of personal and public health interventions to promote health through diet. Essay Objectives: Upon reading this essay, regarding Alzheimer’s, the reader will be able to: 1. Explain the basics of macronutrients, how they are metabolized by the human body, and impacts of over- or under-consumption regarding Alzheimer’s. 2. Explain the basics of common micronutrients, how they are metabolized by the body, and impacts of over- or under-consumption regarding Alzheimer’s. 3. Describe current consumption patterns of nutrients in the US, and the impact of these consumption patterns have on Alzheimer’s. 4. Explain the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s in the US, and how diet is related to the development of this disease. 5. Describe the importance of public health policy and practice in combatting nutrition-related disease Alzheimer’s.. 6. Analyze the impact of our current food patterns and production systems on the environment and human health. 7. Discuss the importance of primary prevention as a key strategy in policy development. 8. Discuss current public health efforts to promote health through dietary and food production changes, and analyze their impact. 9. Apply evidence-based strategies to propose nutrition related interventions to promote health in the US. 10. Recognize the appropriate role of cultural health on diet and disease patterns in the US. 11. Understand specific diet concerns for vulnerable populations, and factors which contribute to disparate health.
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