From Blaze No.3, 1984, edited by Janine Booth
Swift Nick is the Hull poet who you might have seen ranting on a corporation bus on The Tube towards the end of last year. The rant he performed then, ‘Cults and Fads’ was typical of his style. Full of humour and wit, it still puts over the important point that youth is fighting itself, while we’re all being shitted on by the Powers That Be. Senseless.
Our conversation soon found common ground – our joint admiration for, and belief in Paul Weller. This provided a good base for the story of Nick’s rise to the hallowed status or ‘Ranting poet’.
“I was into punk in ’77 – like everybody – and I grew out of it with The Jam. I just found myself agreeing with everything they were saying. I was in lots of small punk groups, but I’ve never been musically talented, so I got nothing good off the ground. I began writing song lyrics, influenced by Paul Weller, Alan Hull (Lindisfarne), John Lennon, SLF, Clash, and, to a lesser extent, Dexy’s. I also liked John Cooper Clarke. When no band materialised, I decided to put my stuff over as poetry. My first gig was in early/mid ’82, with The Czechs (later to become The Red Guitars) at a CND benefit in Hull, as an ‘angry’ poet (ha ha). I heard about Swells, Attila etc in mad/late ’82, and I admired the attitude of ‘Smash old-fashioned poetry, bring it down to street level’ (like punk did with music): I decided to become a ‘ranter’.
Since then, things have really taken off, with gigs flowing freely, the Tube appearance, and a live tape recorded.
His poems aren’t his only mouthpiece, though. New Youth is his fanzine, containing bits about Hull, nationally known groups, sick humour, ranting verse and total lunacy. Despite the appalling typing and layout, it’s a fantastic mag – full of comment on anything and everything: from the demise of punk and the true meaning of Anarchy, to Hull’s local clubs and this year’s scooter runs. Buy it.
He describes himself as a ‘socialist’, but he points out that “The Labour Party is not socialism. I grew up thinking I’d vote Labour, but I saw through that. If the Labour Party got in, it’d just be capitalism with a nicer face. I don’t agree with the parliamentary road to socialism.”
So, what is ‘socialism’, as defined by Swift Nick? Nick’s socialism seems to contain the same views as mine. Not surprising, really, considering we both believe so strongly in Paul Weller’s lyrics.
He’s a passionate opponent of racism, other forms of discrimination, war, vivisection …and intensely dislikes the conditioning he sees being carried out by the gutter press and the government. The main idea, put over in both the poems and the zine, is for unity and a new youth explosion, because he knows that, with A Solid Bond In Our Hearts, we can succeed.
I’ll end the interview with Swift Nick’s comment about himself: “Remember that I’m not important as a personality, it’s the things that I say that are important.”