When: June 11th 2016, 7:30pm – 10:30pm
Where: Mountford Hall, Liverpool Guild of Students
John Cooper Clarke is an English performance “punk poet” with a career spanning five decades. And yeah, June 11th 2016 is a long way away, but tickets for this special summer tour are selling like hot cakes.
Before you press ‘x’ because ‘POETRY IS RUBBISH OMG WHERE AM I, SCHOOL AGAIN?’, let me tell you: I get ya. During my Creative Writing degree, girls would swoon over the bearded, tattooed indie kids who openly recited their feelings, but I dropped poetry for screenwriting as soon as possible.
In year nine English we were instructed to recite our favourite poem. After a week and 50 seconds of frantic Googling, I came up with ‘Mary Had Some Bubble Gum’ and a decade later is still the only poem I have memorised, bundled into a corner of my brain along with the fact that the male duck’s willy is ridiculously long and shaped like a corkscrew which he frequently uses to rape his female counterparts, who have adapted against these lecherous advances with vaginas shaped counter-clockwise. They also have one fake fanny to trick the bloke and prevent illegitimate chicklets. Oh, yeah; here’s the poem:
The teacher also took my dreams of an A away. Nowadays I’ve extended my repertoire to ‘Song’ by Christina Rossetti, to be recited at my funeral.
The thing about John Cooper Clark is that he’s, well, cool. Well cool. Often referred to as “The Bard of Salford”, he gained widespread publicity in the late 70s as the original people’s poet and a leading voice of youth culture, sharing bills with the likes of the Sex Pistols, Joy Division, the Buzzcocks and Elvis Costello.
His biting, expletive-laden sets are characterised by lively, mostly a cappella renditions and a legendary hairstyle. Live a cappella always makes me extremely uncomfortable because it’s so raw, like sushi. There’s absolutely nowhere to hide, and Dr Cooper is one of few people I trust not to muck it up.
Even if you’re unfamiliar with his work, you’ve probably heard it without realizing. ‘I Wanna be Yours’ was adapted by the Arctic Monkeys for their album AM, and the video for 2007 single ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ was inspired by ‘Out of Control Fairground’, in which a mob of clowns have a barny with some clown haters.
Rapper Plan B featured Clarke’s performance poetry in his directional film debut ‘Ill Manors’, their duet ‘Pity The Plight’ appearing in the movie and on the film’s hit soundtrack. These collaborations mean he has been involved in two global number ones in two years.
He also wrote a poem for a 2013 McCain advert about how chips make people happy with the tag line “happy days”.
Cooper’s work has also made it onto the GCSE curriculum thanks to teachers who grew up with his work and wanted dot com generation teens to appreciate poetry, demonstrated in the poem ‘Twat’: Like a death a birthday party/you ruin all the fun/Like a sucked and spat our Smartie/You’re no use to anyone.
‘Evidently Chickentown’ is a good place to start if you’re keen to get to know his work, and watch the 2010 documentary ‘Evidently… John Cooper Clarke’ from the BBC’s Punk Britannia season to know more about the man behind the barnet. His freshly-released ‘Anthologia’ is a unique three CD/DVD bookset, and a limited number of his poems are available on Spotify.
Tickets are selling fast, so to hear the legend himself snap one up at http://www.o2academyliverpool.co.uk/event/121454/dr-john-cooper-clarke-tickets