I Wanna Be Yours: John Cooper Clarke’s magnificent and hysterically funny memoir

Book Review: the self-proclaimed 'bargain basement Baudelaire' detonates zingers on every page of his highly entertaining memoir

John Cooper Clarke, performing at Whelans in Dublin on Wednesday night. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

John Cooper Clarke, performing at Whelans in Dublin on Wednesday night. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

“I’ll tell you now and I’ll tell you firmly, I don’t ever want to go to Burnley,” John Cooper Clarke proclaims in a typically hilarious poem named after the Lancashire town. When Clarke performs it live, he usually prefaces it with a quip, “Don’t ever go to a town where they still point at airplanes.”

Roddy Doyle once claimed he only reads poetry by Cooper Clarke. “Football is the only sport,” Doyle asserted. “Guinness is the only drink. John Cooper Clarke is the only poet.” Affectionately known as the Bard of Salford and hailed as the Godfather of British performance poetry – although Clarke favours calling himself “a bargain basement Baudelaire” – his publishers heralded this highly anticipated memoir, which was reportedly acquired after a “hotly-contested” auction, by lauding him as the poet Laureate of Punk, a literary rock star, an outlandish fashion icon, and a reluctant national treasure. Kate Moss calls him “the velvet voice of discontent.”

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