Better late than never I discover John Cooper Clarke. I went to see the new Joy Division movie Control at the Nuart theater in Santa Monica with some friends this weekend. Now I have a fairly self-evident shallow taste in music, and had originally written off singer/songwriter Ian Curtis as a morose, proto-emo spaz, but if I was trapped in a loveless marriage, had a kid, and was fighting grand mal seizures while trying to get my band going at age 23, yeah, I might not be able to hold it together, either.
Anyway, that’s enough of a pity party for a man who achieved more than I ever will by his early 20s.
In addition to hearing more Joy Division than I ever had in one sitting (“…you mean there’s more besides ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’?”), I also got to hear the dry monotone of a Manc poet barreling through a poem about “Chicken Town.”
A quick googling followed that up with “Twat“, which could only have been written by someone who stayed in a bad relationship way past its due date. Now I’m a misanthropic, spiteful person, but I never thought to express my contempt and distain in such a vivid and concise manner as JCC did here. In short, I didn’t know you could write poetry like that. With “Howl” being the exception that proved the rule, I thought poetry was all meadows and dewdrops and sunsets and love.
Poetry’s also about scabies, murder and phlegm.
This was the epiphany where I finally ‘got’ what poetry was all about, and my own prose feels dull and ham-fisted by comparison. I would ask why I wasn’t exposed to this in school when I was reading real barn-burners like the story consisting solely of a second act When The Legends Die and Aquamarine — a book you will never hear of — instead. But a read of “You Never See a Nipple in the Daily Express” may provide a pretty handy explanation why Cooper Clarke wasn’t on the curriculum.