Picador is to publish poet Dr John Cooper Clarke’s autobiography revealing his “extraordinary life” and his first poetry collection for 37 years after snapping up the titles at auction.
Described as a “poet Laureate of Punk, rock star, fashion icon, TV and radio presenter, social and cultural commentator, reluctant national treasure”, the publisher said Clarke’s “inimitable dry Salford drawl shines through the prose and poetry in these two wonderful books”.
Picador publisher Paul Baggaley and poetry publisher Don Paterson have acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to an autobiography and a new poetry collection by the poet and performer Phil Jones and Siobhan Hanley at Edge Street Live, an artist management company in Manchester. Picador bought the books at a "hotly contested" auction, according to a spokesperson for the publisher.
The autobiography covers an “extraordinary life, filled with remarkable personalities” featuring Nico, Chuck Berry, The Clash, Buzzcocks and The Sex Pistols to Bernard Manning, and more recent collaborators such as Alex Turner and Plan B.
Interspersed with stories of his rock ’n’ roll and performing career, John also reveals his passions including his “boggling encyclopaedic knowledge of twentieth‐century popular culture, his private passions and guilty pleasures” ranging from Baudelaire to Pam Ayres as well as Rimbaud, football, Elvis films, horse racing, The Simpsons, "The Sweeney", politics and humour.
A Picador spokesperson described the memoir as "a much-anticipated and extraordinary story told entirely in John’s unique voice".
The poetry will be John’s first new collection since Ten Years in an Open Necked Shirt (Vintage) in 1981.
The spokesperson said: “To call it long-awaited is an understatement. The poems are filled with rapid-fire, razor-sharp commentaries, riotous flights of the imagination and idiosyncratic ruminations on a mind-bending breadth of topics.”
Baggaley revealed he has been a fan of the poet’s writing and performance since his own teenage years. He said: “Since I became a publisher, it has been an ambition of mine to find a way to work with John and to help readers discover his astonishing writing. Now seems to me to be the perfect time to fulfil this, and these two books will celebrate John’s unique voice as well as his unique life.”
Paterson said: “JCC was crucially influential in getting my own generation into poetry in the first place. He gave us the courage of our non-Home Counties, non-RP voices, encouraged us to pay attention to politics and social history, and showed us how to articulate our anger and how to time a punchline.”
He added: “Most crucially, he taught us that page or no page – if it doesn’t work when it hits the air, it’s a waste of time.”
Cooper Clarke said: “As a life-long professional poet, I cannot recommend this book enough. And if you want to know what kind of guy writes this stuff, then I refer you to my forthcoming memoirs. Both are brought to you by my favourite publishers, Picador.”
The poetry collection will be published in autumn 2018 while the autobiography will be released in 2019, both as hardback editions.