John Cooper Clarke's raring for The Rose

Croydon Guardian: John Cooper Clarke John Cooper Clarke

“You don’t understand how disappointed I was to find out the gig is in Kingston upon Thames and not Kingston, Jamaica,” deadpans John Cooper Clarke, in that unmistakeable Mancunian drawl.

Despite his initial disappointment, The Bard of Salford is looking forward to showcasing plenty of new material at his upcoming show at The Rose Theatre on April 10, alongside some of his best known poems such as Beasley Street and Evidently Chickentown.

Cooper Clarke's output has been sporadic during the course of a career that has spanned more than three decades but at present he is just delighted to be in a rich vein of writing form.

“If I knew the conditions that you need to be inspired to write poetry I’d make sure that those conditions existed most of the time,” he says.

“Like most people who rely on the intuitive part of their brain, one gets superstitious about analysing it too much. I just find an angle and hopefully get a few laughs in there, a nice metre and some good rhymes.”

During the last ten years or so, Cooper Clarke has become a regular fixture on the club and festival circuits and he is consistently named as a vital influence by plenty of young poets and musicians. He is is happy to embrace such praise, although his winkelpickered feet have stayed firmly on the ground.

“I’m as famous now as I’ve ever been but I’m not a household name - although it depends on the household I suppose,” he adds.

The 62-year-old’s remarkable appearance as a much younger version of himself in the Joy Division film Control, a piece of casting that he puts down to "the beauty of not looking very good in the first place", also brought him to a wider audience.

Cooper Clarke’s association with the bands he toured with, such as Joy Division and the Sex Pistols, has landed him with the label of ‘punk poet’, a moniker that he believes “oversimplifies” what he is about.

“It’s understandable because ‘punk poet’ sounds good and punk rock did provide me with a platform to do my stuff,” he explains.

“I’m not stuck in that world though and, to be honest, I never was. I’ve never played punk rock records at home exclusively, although having said that The Ramones get an airing everyday.”

John Cooper Clarke supported by Rhythm and Muse, Rose Theatre, Kingston, April 10, 7.30pm, £12-£19, rhythmandmuse.org

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