Poetry or Bust by Tony Harrison


Author: Tony Harrison

This is a very collectible edition of an absolutely brilliant play: Poetry or Bust is a tour de force of energy, wit, cleverness and rhyme by Tony Harrison. It was originally commissioned for performance at Salts Mill in 1993. This edition was produced for that event and was limited to 4000 copies, with the front and back cover by David Hockney.

Poetry or Bust tells the story of John Nicolson,. Never heard of him? We forgive you.  He's 'the poet, the Airedale poet' - a drunken woolsorter who worked at Salts Mill. Nicolson scratched his verses into sheep fat and yearned for poetic immortality. His  single volume of verse was published privately by his employer, Sir Titus Salt. Nicolson celebrated the publication by heading to London to commission a bust of himself from famed sculptor Sir Francis Chantry (himself a son of  Sheffield.) The trip ended in disaster - Nicolson ended up getting arrested for haranguing a bust of Shakespeare at the Drury Lane Theatre. It's all so crazy, funny and touching that you couldn't make it up - perfect material for Harrison, who relishes the comedy and the tragedy of it all.

  • Paperback: 51 pages
  • Limited edition of 4000 copies
  • Front and back cover by David Hockney
  • Dimensions: 23 x 17.5cm
  • Publisher: Salts Estates (January 1, 1993)
  • Printed in Bradford, West Yorkshire