Means again In 2012 As a part of their Punk Britannia season, the BBC celebrated punk efficiency poet legend John Cooper Clarke via BBC4 documentary Evidently John Cooper Clarke with a month of Radio 6Music specials. Few artists might draw such vocal and heartfelt appreciation from a set as various and wealthy in expertise as Steve Coogan, Alex Turner, Stewart Lee, Pete Shelley, Craig Charles and Wilko Johnson, the checklist goes on. Feargal Kinney gave us his prime 10 John Cooper Clarke poems.
Ten years on Paul Evangelista updates the checklist to 12 of one of the best JCC poems with hyperlinks!
There have been instances when poetry was very a lot in vogue. Within the 1800s, poetry was maybe akin to rock n roll, with its proponents being declared ‘mad, dangerous and harmful to know’. Within the early 1900s, poetry was taken severely sufficient that it was a part of the Olympics.
However of all of the instances after we may take into account poetry to have been inspired, the punk explosion of ‘76/’77 would seemingly not be included. The shock and awe of these instances wouldn’t appear to be notably fertile floor for a poet to thrive in, however, hidden within the depths of Salford, a younger poet was on the point of do precisely that.
Incomes the epithet of Punk Poet, John Cooper Clarke managed to someway trip the zeitgeist of punk as a poet whereas trying like a thin, burst Bob Dylan.
His poetry involved itself much less with daffodils and summer season days and extra with the squalor and ridiculousness of the world round him. Crucially, he discovered the humour in these conditions and used this extensively in his verse.
After a decade or two misplaced to heroin, John Cooper Clarke was in a position to decide up his mantle of other poet laureate and keep it up making us snort and cry.
Right here we current a few of his finest work, which is able to go some approach to explaining why he has develop into, of all issues, a nationwide treasure.
I Don’t Need To Be Good
Certainly one of his extra upbeat musical compositions accompany this one, the supply of which veers startlingly near a sung melody. Maybe a sign of what would have occurred if John Cooper Clarke shunned poetry to sing in a band, the clever defiance and proud cynicism of “a pal in want is a pal in debt” creates one among Clarke’s most compelling creations.
Greatest line: “I’m not your psychoanalyst, I’d somewhat discuss to mice.”
An train in acute alliteration that noticed such extreme use of a plosive ‘P’ that Clarke suggested the primary 16 rows of his viewers to be careful. Pest is ostensibly about somebody urinating in public however actually is Clarke delighting in his mastery of the English language.
Having an concept to jot down such a poem is one factor, however to create such a masterfully crafted textual content is sort of one other. I used to be tempted to rely all of the phrases in Pest and see what proportion of them truly started with P, however realised within the nick of time what sort of a nerd that might make me. Let’s simply say it’s so much.
Greatest line: “The pandemonium prompted the police, who patrolled the precinct in panda automobiles, to drag up and peruse the issue, whereas pickpockets picked pockets in pairs.”
I Wanna Be Yours
An odd staple of many wedding ceremony ceremonies, I Wanna Be Yours was the primary John Cooper Clarke poem to make the GCSE syllabus in 2002, and launched a younger Alex Turner to the artwork of the properly crafted verse.
I Wanna Be Yours explores the emotions of affection and need, cleverly articulated by Clarke wishing to be the on a regular basis issues that come into shut bodily contact with the item of his affection, comparable to raincoats, vacuum cleaners and occasional pots.
Greatest line: “In the event you like your espresso scorching, let me be your espresso pot. You name the photographs, I wanna be yours”.
Beasley Road is one among John Cooper Clarke’s darker poems. In reality this can be very darkish however, provided that it appears to be like on the worst excesses of slum dwelling, how might it not be.
Maybe the rationale why folks maintain this explicit poem in such affection is due to the Beasley Streets that everyone knows, the “absolutely furnished dustbins” that lurk in provincial Northern cities or London outskirts.
The explanations the Beasley Streets exist is judged to be political, with one of many poems strongest traces directed at Keith Joseph, then described because the architect of Thatcherism; “Keith Joseph smiles and a child dies in a field on Beasley Road”
The usually divisive manufacturing that Martin Hannett dropped at John Cooper Clarke’s poetry works to finest impact right here, complimenting the darkish undertones and cautious alliteration of “in an X certificates train ex-servicemen excrete”.
Greatest line: “The boys are on the wagon. the women are on the shelf. Their frequent drawback is that they’re not another person”
Twat (definitely not Clarke’s first or final foray into the 4 letter realm) is one among John Cooper Clarke’ angriest but someway most charming poems. A comparatively easy but usually vibrant condemnation of an unnamed particular person; all one of the best parts of Clarke’s work are discovered right here. The gutturally nasal Northern machine gun verse of John Cooper Clarke, as stuffed with vitriol as it’s humour and irony, is as inimitably his personal because the black hairspray explosion and 28 inch waist black drainpipes nonetheless omnipresent in his 70s (70s!).
Greatest line: “Like a dying a celebration, you damage all of the enjoyable.”
Ten Years in an Open Necked Shirt
I used to be going to preface this by saying it’s not likely a poem, however it could be higher to say it isn’t a poem in any respect. In reality I’m unsure what it truly is, stream of consciousness fantasy making? It come throughout as a noir origin story, folks with outrageous characters and ending with Clarke himself rising from the story as a poet able to tackle the world. However actually it’s one other instance of Clarke having enjoyable with the written phrase.
It doesn’t say a lot, nevertheless it goes to nice lengths to say it. Alongside the best way we get handled to a few of John Cooper Clarke’s most interesting writing and possibly as we gained a poet, we misplaced an writer.
Greatest line: “The carpet was monotonous, its sample gave the look of small animal crapping at common intervals.”
Easy but completely excellent, Evidently Chickentown is a stark depiction of a location so grim that Clarke can solely adequately specific this through the use of a stream of steady expletives.
The impact of that is to hammer house the factors made. The fixed use of the phrase ‘fucking’ features as a hammer, used to drive the factors house. It’s removed from gratuitous, take the swearing out and the poem would stop to perform as such. As an alternative we get maybe John Cooper Clarke’s hardest hitting poems.
Greatest line: “The fucking scene is fucking unhappy, the fucking information is fucking dangerous, the fucking weed is fucking turf, the fucking velocity is fucking surf”
Kung Fu Worldwide
“Through which I get crushed up” says Clarke as introduction to this poem on its reside recording. Certainly one of his extra playful numbers, this story of take away violence by the hands of an “embryonic Bruce Lee” was launched as a b-side to single ”Publish Battle Glamour Women’ in 1978, and its gentle hearted nature echoes the nightclub circuit wherein Clarke minimize his tooth earlier than the punk period.
Greatest line: “I pleaded for mercy, I wriggled on the bottom. He kicked me within the balls and mentioned one thing profound”
Are You the Enterprise?
A lesser recognized Clarke quantity however amongst his most literary and witty, Are You the Enterprise? is a barrage of questions from the delicate to the absurd, each snort inducing and completely crafted.
Greatest line: “Did Bob Marley just like the odd smoke? Was Jesus Christ an honest bloke?”
Aside From the Revolution
A severe be aware is being struck right here and this poem appears to be like at a life after revolution. Brief and easy, Aside From the Revolution is nonetheless filled with a mix of pathos and hope.
Revolutions are sometimes bloody affairs and, on this occasion, “there have been executions, any person needed to pay” however the results of this can be a land the place peasants eat cake and youngsters have wholesome tooth and gums.
Greatest line: “Poverty and air pollution have all swept away. Other than the revolution, it’s one other working day.”
The talk on bringing again the dying penalty was rumbling on when Clarke wrote down his observations on what the results of this could be. Probably the most hanging factor about listening to this poem carried out reside is the staccato call-and-response nature of the supply. Clarke typically appeared to bear beats in thoughts when writing and performing, probably indicating there’s a pissed off rock star hiding beneath the poetic exterior.
Once more we’re introduced with a nightmarish imaginative and prescient of the longer term which will sound unnecessarily alarmist lately, however as Tom Robinson as soon as identified, “simply because it didn’t go the best way of navy repression or fascists taking up the Conservative celebration, that doesn’t imply to say it couldn’t have achieved.” The 70s have been scary instances and Clarke mirrored these issues.
Greatest line: “They’d hold you for incontinence and fiddling your tax. Failure to hold your self justified the axe.”
I Wrote the Songs
A light-weight hearted have a look at songs that would have been well-known, that is Clarke at his most whimsical as he lists songs with titles which can be virtually acquainted, comparable to Some Enchanted Afternoon and Greasy Sort Of Love.
It’s basically only one joke stretched throughout a poem, nevertheless it showcases Clarke’s sense of humour completely.
Greatest line: “Dancin’ In The Daylight, Singin’ In The Smog, You Ain’t Nothin’ However A Hedgehog.”
All Choices by Banjo – you’ll find his writer’s archive right here
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