"I SAY to people, have you heard of John Cooper Clarke and if they say, ‘Yes, yeah he's an absolute genius’, and you just go, 'Oh - OK, you've saved me a lot of time."
So said Steve Coogan about the ‘Bard of Salford’, the punk poet, spoken word artist, living legend, and British cultural treasure, John Cooper Clarke, who will bring his new show, I Wanna Be Yours, to the Black Box Theatre on Wednesday May 4 2022 at 7.30pm.
He first came to attention in the late 1970s as part of the vibrant punk scene in Manchester, where his witty, comic poetry, and rapid fire delivery - inspired by the Ramones - showed that the punk ethos could also be applied to any facet of the arts, not just music.
That said, he had close ties with music, playing on the same bills as Joy Division, the Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks, and The Clash, and recording albums of his poetry, with musical accompaniment from the Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley and The Durutti Column’s Vinnie Reilly.
From this era came such poems as ‘Beasley Street’ and ‘Evidently Chickentown’ (which would later be used on The Sopranos ). On the printed page, 10 Years in An Open Necked Shirt appeared in 1983 from Random House - Penguin, and went on to become one of the biggest selling poetry books in the UK.
Throughout the last 15 years, JCC has enjoyed a major comeback, touring his poetry shows worldwide; having his poetry featured on the British school curriculum syllabus; and Collaborating with The Arctic Monkeys (who set JCC’s ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ to music ) and with rapper Plan B. Indeed, The Daily Telegraph called him, “The godfather of British performance poetry”, while Julian Hall in The Independent said, “There are a legion of new young poets who rightly pay homage to Cooper Clarke.”
John's most recent poetry collection, The Luckiest Guy Alive, was published in 2018 and last year he penned the acclaimed memoir, I Wanna Be Yours. As The Sunday Times said: “Any autobiography that features both Bernard Manning and Nico is unlikely to disappoint; even less so when it’s written with such brilliantly Dickensian vigour by the Bard of Salford, John Cooper Clarke...this fast, funny book catches his life in its lines.”