I've owned this collection for nearly twenty years, and even for favourite poetry, this has proved to be outstanding value for money. There are so many poems here, you can dive right in or just have a little dip occasionally. His is a very strong poetic voice, and his biggest feature is his heart. He can be intellectual, erudite and even arcane, but too much of this gets him teetering on the pretentious and sometimes you even think he's teasing you with his great breadth of themes and subjects and his strong knowledge of linguistics and love for classial verse and classical history. But he will always lead you back to warmer waters with his homely Yorkshire heart.
I don't think his reputation is as strong as it was twenty years ago. In fact it unquestionably isn't. 'Blasphemer's Banquet' in the early nineties seemed to leave a few people cold, those who probably confused his message somewhat because of the strong unrepentant tone. That though, was always Harrison's strength: His passion and heart. But on occasions it was a little too direct for some of the softer poetry lovers. 'V' also divided opinion and made big impressions both positive and nagative. This one super-poem should never be regarded as his finest work, however much it spoke for an unrepresented section of society.
But the biggest threat to his reputation now, has to be the current taste, or trend in poetry. Quite honestly, these days this T.H. is about as modern in his style as another: Thomas Hardy. Harrison's modern themes and subjects and his earthy language are as street cred as any young poet's today, but his consistent use of verse is most definitely passe'. It's a shame, and I hope it doesn't tempt him into trying his hand at the very loose free verse/prose poetry form that seems to be the prevailing fashion now, but I shouldn't think it would: He has a strong Yorkshire stubborn streak in him, does Tony. He should proudly keep up the old (cloth) hat.