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Barbarian Masquerade: A Reading of the Poetry of Tony Harrison and Simon Armitage

Taylor, Christian James (2015) Barbarian Masquerade: A Reading of the Poetry of Tony Harrison and Simon Armitage. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This thesis investigates Simon Armitage’s claim that his poetry inherits from Tony Harrison’s work an interest in the politics of form and language, and argues that both poets, although rarely compared, produce work which is conceptually and ideologically interrelated: principally by their adoption of an ‘un-poetic’, deliberately antagonistic language which is used to invade historically validated and culturally prestigious lyric forms as part of a critique of canons of taste and normative concepts of poetic register which I call barbarian masquerade. Harrison’s first collection The Loiners is analysed alongside Armitage’s debut Zoom! in order to demonstrate a shared antipathy towards traditional form and language, and this poetics of dissent is traced across a range of collections, showing that although Harrison’s writing is more obviously class-conscious or Marxist than Armitage’s ludic and ironic output, both poets’ deployment of masquerade reveals a range of shared aesthetic, poetic and political concerns. The final chapters of the thesis demonstrate the complexity of the two poets’ barbarian poetics by analysing Harrison’s militant secularism and Armitage’s denunciations of state violence, hate crime and social exclusion, and by showing that their masquerade writing transcends simple renegotiations of language, structure and style in its search for a public poetry defined by its engagement with, rather than withdrawal from, social, moral and political debate. The thesis ends by suggesting that Harrison’s influence on Armitage might apply to other New Generation poets and to more recent writers, whose work is invoked in order to suggest a continuity of politicised, barbaric writing.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: This thesis seeks to demonstrate an interrelatedness of Harrison and Armitage's poetry: at the level of language, subversion of form, political arguments, and theme.
Keywords: Tony Harrison; Simon Armitage; Poetry; Subversion; Masquerade; Politicising form; Language; Poetry as public art form
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of English (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.682248
Depositing User: Dr Christian James Taylor
Date Deposited: 24 Mar 2016 11:49
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2016 15:45
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/12075

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