Tag Archives: Swift Nick

Clarkey In New Youth

John Cooper Clarke in Hulls New Youth zine, number 4, 1984.

Were you definitely a Punk, or did you just find it coming along at the right time for you?
“Yeah, I was already doing this sort of thing in the period immediately before Punk, but to an extent. Yeah, I suppose I was, plus I definitely altered my style to suit.”

You broke the ground for Poets, it must have taken a lot of guts?
“Yeah, it was a bit dangerous at times.”

But you made poets more acceptable for audiences at rock gigs ’cause there’s a new wave now; Attila, Swells, Swift Nick, Ginger John, etc. It’s easier now…
“Well that may be true, but I wouldn’t say it was easy!”

Has your book been selling well?
“Yeah, great. It’s sold out of the original print run and we’re well into the second set now.”

Is that suit you wear now the one you started with originally?
“(Laughs) No, not exactly. At first it was separate pairs of pants and trousers.”
Tim Dalton, (Spring St.) “First thing he asked me when he arrived tonight was, ‘What suit did I have on the last time I was in Hull’…!
John, “Well I’ve only got one with me you see and I wanted to know if it was the same one as last time. (Laughs) I mean if I don’t set a fuckin’ example, who will!!”

We noticed you hired a flashy car to get here tonight, are you making loads of money these days?
“I owe it all out! I owe my record company £36,000 and the travel agents, who’ve arranged the lat three tours, a few thousand as well!”

Are you bothered?
“Well you can’t take it seriously – I worry more about owing him (a friend) a fiver than I do the record comps… and travel agents.” His friend: “Fuckin’ right, yo should worry!”

Are they your bodyguards? (meaning his two friends)
“Sort of!”
The next few minutes are impossible ’cause his two bodyguard/managers keep singing “One step at a time, sweet Jesus…’!!!

I liked what you said on that programme recently, about you being a socialist in a capitalist world..?
“What you mean ‘I can’t be an Island of Socialism in a sea of Capitalism'”
That was it…
“Yeah, it’s right, y’see I am a Socialist but you can’t decide to live your socialist ideal on your own. It’s impossible. We have to keep going along with capitalism at the moment until we can change it. At the moment I make what I can… I have to, same as everyone. If you do live out your own little socialist ideal… you’ll be left with nothing and you’ll have changed nothing… you’ll just be a martyr, and I mean, a fuckin’ martyr’s no good to anyone (laughs). They’ll just say ‘Oh yeah, he was a nice bloke, but anyway he’s fuckin’ dead now!'”

Streetwise Poetry

Michelene Wandor’s article on the Poet Laureateship sets of a pre-facebook flame war, though obviously a much slower paced one. Firstly from Marxism Today, August, 1984.

THE THING ITSELF

Michelene Wandor expresses the attitude of MT when she writes (MT July 84): “In left-wing journalism poetry is feared or dismissed as bourgeois individualism and discounted by radical publishers as ‘not selling’.” Her articles are the closest thing to poetry it prints. With few outlets for ‘political’ poetry in the UK, radical journals frequently declare their commitment to it as a resource for the Left, yet only publish prose. This country’s tradition of political verse stretches back past Milton, yet left-wing journalists direct our attention to those writers who achived success through and after Punk. That many of these have revived some of the most banal poetic forms recieves no comment.
Many poets show ‘streetwise verbal richness’ (Adrian Mitchell, Roy Fisher, Tom Pickard, Geraldine Monk, Barry MacSweeny, Duncan Bush) but are interested in more than streetsense. These and other writers are attempting to deconstruct the realities of capitalism with language, and to construct new modes of thought and relationship which will hasten the material advance of Socialism. Yet, Mitchell excepted, no interest is shown in their work by those ostensibly devoted to all forms of radicalism.
What of the radicalisation of language?
If poetry is a valid tool for the Left, why do those who could facilitate its publication reject it ‘because it takes up too much space’? Space is given to those poets popular among London’s radical chic: is success therefore the definitive measure of value? Success in a publishing system obsessed with profitability, despite ‘radical’ publishing. That poetry should be subject to constraints applied to no other form of language: that it be as selfexplanatory as a cartoon and as lucrative as a pop-song; shows an immaturity in the perception of poetry that magazines like MT should attempt to change by publishing not articles about poetry but the thing itself.

Keith Jafrate,
North Yorkshire

The following month in Marxism Today, September, 1984, Ranter Dino the Frog champions the Doc Martened poets.

STREETWISE POETRY

Comrade Jafrate’s alleged taste in poetry certainly contradicts his desire to hear ‘streetwise’ oriented poetry (MT Aug 84). I assume by streetwise he means ‘by the working class, for the working class’, yet how many of these people does he see at poetry events?
The truth is that these events are poorly attended, the reason being that, as Adrian Mitchell said: ‘Most people ignore poetry because poetry ignores people’.
I am one of the punk/post-punk poets (though I’d rather be called a Ranter) he dismisses as being a revivalist of banalism. If I, and others such as Swift Nick, Attila The Stockbroker, Little Brother,
Seething Wells and Peter Campbell, are reviving banalism, then so be it, but we’re getting across to a big audience and attracting many people who never imagined they’d ever like poetry. We exist because of our fellow human beings, not in spite of them. We’re not in the business of dumping the listener in a verbal maze in mid-performance (and we are essentially live performers) and aurally torturing them as is the usual practice of the ME generation poets, but kicking poetry off its hallowed pedestal and taking it back to the people, spreading the word of unity and having a good laugh at the same time.
MT readers can learn more by sending 40p and a sae to Tirane Thrash, 161 Spencers Croft, Harlow, Essex.

Dino the Frog,
Oldham

The Extra Tebbitestrial

From Youth Anthem, 4, 1984
Norman Tebbit was a right-wing Tory membe of Mrs Thatcher’s government. In 1884 he was Trade and Industry Secretary. He was well known for being anti-trade union.
In 1981 his response to the Young Conservatives chairman Iain Picton suggesting that rioting in Handsworth and Brixton was a natural reaction to unemployment was: “I grew up in the ’30s with an unemployed father. He didn’t riot. He got on his bike and looked for work, and he kept looking till he found it.”

The Extra Tebbitestrial (E.T.) (Norman Tebbit)

The dole queue figures reach an all time peak
E.T. says “get on your bikes” to ride and seek
The non-existant jobs that he claims are there
But we know he’s bluffing and it’s so unfair
‘Cause the bikes we once owned are in the pawnbrokers
A sad consequence of the tory jokers
The Extra Tebbitestrial can’t be human
He’s gotta be related to gary Numan
‘Cause just like him he’s cold with a hard exterior
With his brains situated in his bald posterior
Extra Tebbitestrial doesn’t come from earth
He doesn’t come at all for what that’s worth
Extra Tebbitestrial certainly makes the little kids cry
‘Cause their old man is out of work and he can’t explain why
The Extra Tebbitestrial is the cause of our pains
The power he’s got can drive us insane
The Extra Tebbitestrial is part of Thatcher’s attack
He grew like a manitou out of her back
Extra Tebbitestrial wants to phone home
But all I can say is Extra Tebbitestrial “Fuck off home”

Swift Nick

tebbit