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Dr John Cooper Clarke


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During the seventies and early eighties, it would have been easy for John Cooper Clarke to slip into music, or even stand-up comedy. He had the look. He had the attitude. He had an ability with language and the rhythm of it. Thankfully he choose poetry instead, although he did stay close to the music industry.

People became aware of his work through support slots for some of the bands of the seventies and eighties, and he used musical backing from notable musicians under spoken renditions of his sometimes gritty poems, which became a theme for his recorded work.

Cooper Clarke was labeled as a punk poet during the UK punk era in the late seventies, and although he was never really a punk, his attitudes reflected some of the perceived punk culture at the time, and his work often features the environments and situations of a darker everyday life.

Strong language and crude expression does feature in his work, but there is an underlying element that stops things becoming arrogant, or crass. There is a subtle thread that is enhanced by the Mancunian attitude to life and culture, which has a measure of humour, acceptance and reflection of reality.

There is nothing superficial, and things are told as he sees them without malice or aggression, although candid remarks at his live performances can sometimes spark upset for those of a sensitive nature.

Poetry is one of the most difficult fields to become recognised in, let alone making it a career. Johnny Clarke has made his mark and found his audience - a rare achievement for a modern poet.

The official website features his poems in text form which allows time for a little more study of his work, and reveals more in terms of word play and meaning. Examples of his recorded performances are available on Spotify.