v. by Tony Harrison (paperback)
Essential reading - one of the greatest, and certainly the career-defining poem, by one of the greatest minds alive. If you aren't well-read in Harrison, you really need to read V. If you are, then you know you need to buy it for someone else - someone deserving of it.
Don't believe us? Let's leave it to the Daily Mail: 'A torrent of four-letter filth... the most explicitly sexual language yet beamed into the nation's living rooms... the crudest, most offensive word is used 17 times.'
Tony Harrison's v. was written during the Miners' Strike of 1984-85 when he visited his parents' grave in a Leeds cemetery and found it vandalised by obscene graffiti. In the book-length poem, he confronts the foul-mouthed skinhead thug responsible, who becomes a foil for his own anger and alienation. The political and media reaction to v. would make a book in itself. This is that book. As well as Tony Harrison's poem and Graham Sykes's photographs, this new edition of v. includes press articles, letters, reviews, a defence of the poem and film by director Richard Eyre, and a transcript of the phone calls logged by Channel Four on the night of the broadcast.
'If I had the slightest influence over educational policy in this country, I'd see that v. was a set text in every school in the country, but of course if we lived in that sort of country, the poem wouldn't have needed to be written' Richard Eyre.
Channel Four's film of v. won the Royal Television Society's Best Original Programme Award. This edition of v. has been used as a set text on many university courses in English literature, social studies and media studies. And some far-sighted schoolteachers have used it in English lessons, some showing their pupils the videos they copied from the TV when the film was first shown or repeated. A work of singular genius.