Punk poet John Cooper Clarke helps celebrate our love of the coast

John Cooper-Clarke.
John Cooper-Clarke.
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HE IS best-known for his punk poetry. Now Dr John Cooper Clarke has turned his attention to something rather less anarchic.

Clarke, who has become one of the country’s most celebrated poets since emerging during the punk rock era, has written verses to celebrate the British coast.

His work, Nation’s Ode to the Coast, is a collaboration with the National Trust and is intended to raise awareness of the beauty of the rugged British shoreline.

Inspired by his own connections to the sea, it also celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Trust’s Neptune Coastline Campaign.

The release of the poem will also help kick-start a summer-long campaign to encourage people to share their love for the coast.

Following the launch of the first verses, the public is asked to help Clarke complete the poem by submitting contributions. They can take be words, pictures, social media posts or sounds, with submissions made using the Twitter hashtag #lovethecoast.

Clarke, who will also voiceover a television ad campaign on July 13, said: “The sea has been a rich source of inspiration to me from year zero. It’s a glimpse of eternity available to every inhabitant, so I’m right behind the National Trust on keeping the coast beautiful and also maintaining the pathways that enable the more landlocked citizens of these islands to visit the coast. When the sun’s shining on it, there’s nothing more beautiful, and I can’t think of a better way to convey the metaphysical nature of the sea than through a poem.”

Launched in May 1965, the Neptune Coastline Campaign is one of the longest running environmental campaigns in western Europe and has resulted in the National Trust managing 775 miles of coast in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, equating to over 10 per cent of the UK’s coastline.

Clarke’s poem begins: A big fat sky and a thousand shrieks, The tide arrives and the timber creaks, A world away from the working week, Ou est la vie nautique? That’s where the sea comes in…”