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John Cooper Clarke’s 5 tips on how to write the perfect love poem (Exclusive)

EXCLUSIVE: Legendary punk poet offers up his poetry tips.

John Cooper Clarke’s 5 tips on how to write the perfect love poem (Exclusive)
Marc Chacksfield
14 February 2020

Performance poet, rockstar, cultural icon… there’s not many people in the world that can claim to be all three of these but, then, Dr John Cooper Clarke isn’t just anyone.


The ‘punk poet cum national treasure’ has concocted many a killer couplet over the years, he’s known for (I married) a Monster From Outer Space - “In a cybernetic fit of rage, she pissed off to another age. She lives in 1999, with her new boyfriend – a blob of slime” - You Never See A Nipple In The Daily Express and his finest work, Evidently Chickentown, which was used in the penultimate episode of The Sopranos.


Dr Cooper Clarke knows how to write a poem that resonates with us all, so if you want to know how to write the perfect love poem this Valentine’s Day, one that’s slathered in Rock’n’Roll swagger then you better head the following advice.


John Cooper Clarke’s 5 tips on how to write the perfect love poem (Exclusive)

John Cooper Clarke has been working in collaboration with Kraken Rum, for the Kraken Rumantics Punk Poetry competition, helping choose user-submitted poems this Valentine’s Day. If a poet’s favourite ode has been selected, then they will get a limited-edition bottle of ‘Kraken Blaken’ - there’s only 100 ultra-limited edition bottles available on the 14 February. The bottles are being delivered by Kraken’s very own black milk float and if you spot it, be sure to take a photo and share it on social media with #RUMANTICS for a chance to win a bottle.


John Cooper Clarke’s 5 tips on how to write the perfect love poem (Exclusive)

1. Avoid Clichés

“More precisely, avoid other people’s clichés, says Cooper Clarke. “There really is no greater success for a poet than to invent a new cliché so be inventive and create something new.”


2. Don’t be too creative

“Whilst it sounds counterintuitive, don’t make it too abstract and make it clear who it is addressed to,” notes Cooper Clarke. “If it’s about a girl from Stoke, it’s about a girl from Stoke.”


3. Be aware of your own voice...

(...and its limitations, particularly if you’re going to record it)

“It’s impossible to gauge how appealing your own voice is so try and make it as international as possible to appeal to the largest amount of people – listeners could find your delivery annoying, which isn’t ideal with spoken word.”


4. Be personable and let your personality shine

“It’s good to factor your own personal obsessions,” says Cooper Clarke. “If you’re a football fan, comparing a kiss to the winning goal in a cup final will help put your stamp on it.”


5. Take inspiration from the greats

“The Great American Songbook is a great template for the writing of romantic lyrics,” reckons Cooper Clarke. “A song is a million miles away from poetry, but greats like Chet Baker, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin transformed their lyrics into a piece of melancholy reflection on the very nature of romantic obsession.”


And if you want to hear an exclusive verse from John Cooper Clarke, then watch below.