John Cooper Clark

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John Cooper Clark

She’s a fan of the man with a tan from a can

Do you have certain little cultural secrets? One of mine is I totally love the poetry of John Cooper Clark. I originally discovered him as many people did when he first appeared as the ‘punk poet’, the ‘Bard of Salford’ in the late 70s and early 80s. Imagine opening the show in front of a rowdy punk audience for the likes of the Sex Pistols, the Buzzcocks, Joy Division etc armed with just a microphone and a few poems. And to hold that audience’s attention! And have them laughing and cheering you! Amazing!

Although he has been shunned to a degree by the literary establishment, he has a huge cult following and has admirers such as Steve Coogan, Bill Bailey, Stewart Lee, the Artic Monkeys and Plan B, to name but a few.

After heroin addiction and a slow dive into obscurity he is now healthy and somewhat back in the limelight after way too long an absence, now performing and recording again. Despite him being relatively unknown in America his controversial poem ‘Evidently Chickentown’ was played at the ending of an episode of the acclaimed Sopranos TV series and I have just discovered that three of his poems are now in the GCSE syllabus. Brilliant! He played at the Brighton Dome in November and will continue touring through 2013.

From ‘The valley of the long lost women’

“The windows are frigidaire icebergs frozen in prickly heat / the vanishing cream victims are drip-fed amnesia neat/ where the test card melodies warm you in powder blue pseudo bel air / germs and flies alarm you they whisper the word expelair / the eyes of the night sub-zero peep through the windows of sleep / everyone’s husband is a hero and ghost insurance men creep / through the valley of the long-lost women dreaming under the driers / eating and sleeping and slimming according to what is required.”

From ‘The bronze Adonis’

“I lay beneath the parasol / watched him with the chicks/ horsing around with his aerosol / they whispered about his odd trick/ send no cash/ fear no man/ you can be a love Leviathan/ she’s a fan of the man with a tan from a can/ the bronze Adonis got her.”

It’s not Shakespeare, but it works for me!

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