John Cooper Clarke

by Finn Dickinson

Photo credit: Sonic PR.

In a characteristically taciturn interview with The Guardian, veteran performance poet John Cooper Clarke recently referred to himself as ‘A walking example of self-denial’. Having thought about it for a few long minutes, that’s probably far better a descriptor than anything I could have come up with – and I never deny myself anything. Impressive, right? Are you going to the gig yet?

Given the substantial niche John Cooper Clarke has carved out for himself within the Artistic Community™, it may be useful to provide a lay summary. He had his first and only UK top 40 hit nearly forty years ago with Gimmix! (Play Loud) – a song which ought by rights to still be featured on PearShaped’s A View From the Top column, according to recent trends and the sentence I’ve just written. He’s spent the rest of his time proffering poems (some of which are set to music), occasionally blessing the public with live performances, and receiving an honorary doctorate from the University of Salford.

You probably know Clarke from his scattered appearances on UK TV panel shows, or through the interpolation of his 1982 poem I Wanna Be Yours into Arctic Monkeys’ 2015 song I Wanna Be Yours. Yeah, that’s right – you’re a student, aren’t you? You like telly and hip bands named after nonsensical animals, and you’re going to see John Cooper Clarke if you know what’s good for you.