'His was the only art we ever shared.'

Tony Harrison | Poet


by Tony Harrison



James Cagney was the one up both our streets.
His was the only art we ever shared.
A gangster film and choc ice were the treats
that showed about as much love as he dared.

He’d be my own age now in ’49!
The hand that glinted with the ring he wore,
his father’s, tipped the cold bar into mine
just as the organist dropped through the floor.

He’s on the platform lowered out of sight 
to organ music, this time on looped tape,
into a furnace with a blinding light 
where only his father’s ring will keep its shape.

I wear it now to Cagney’s on my own
And sense my father’s hands cupped round my treat –

they feel as though they’ve been chilled to the bone
from holding my ice cream all through White Heat.

by Tony Harrison

'Continuous' by Tony Harrison. Taken from ‘Selected Poems’. (Penguin; 3rd Revised ed. edition, 7 Feb. 2013)


Poem as Friend to Peter

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Continuousby Tony Harrison

In this episode of our podcast, you will hear Peter talking about the poem that has been a friend to him: 'Continuous' by Tony Harrison.


Peter visited The Poetry Exchange at BALTIC Contemporary Arts Centre in Gateshead, as part of the Raising The Flag Event. We’re very grateful to BALTIC for hosting The Poetry Exchange so warmly.


Discover more about their work and their fascinating programme of events: 



Peter is in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, John Prebble and Degna Stone.

We are delighted to feature 'Continuous' in this episode and would like to thank both Faber & Faber and Tony Harrison for granting us permission to use his poem in this way.


We talk to people about the poem that has been a friend to them.

In exchange we create a gift for them, a bespoke reading of their chosen poem inspired by the conversation. Our award-winning podcast shares these unique and powerful stories of connection with people across the world. 


We set up an intimate environment for these conversations at festivals, in arts, cultural and public spaces across the country. We also hold exchanges ‘long distance’. Our visitors come from all walks of life and we also feature well-known personalities such as Andrew Scott, Maxine Peake, Roy McFarlane and Paterson Joseph.