When I was 15, I was pretty certain that poetry just wasn't for me. I could see why others liked it, but nothing I'd read so far really seemed to be speaking to me. And then, hidden away on a punk mix-tape (I was at least 15 years out to have actually been there), I stumbled across Kung Fu International:
Poetry was no longer just the province of long-dead men in cravats contemplating the nature of love, but of men in drain-pipes, contemplating the nature of getting your head kicked in in a phone box. Something told me that this dude was more punk than anyone else snarling away on my tape, but little did I know then that Kung Fu International wasn't even his best.
Ten Years In an Open Necked Shirt is a brilliant collection of John Cooper Clarke, which includes my favourite:
...as well as more of his other best and most-known works, plus a few others.
Full of acerbic wit, this is full of lines I'd like to memorise so that I can pull them out the next time I'm called upon for a witty comeback (or so I can spew A Love Story In Reverse at them, if they've really annoyed me. Oh, you haven't heard that one? Here, let me oblige)
The only reason this is getting a 4 rather than a 5 is solely down to not hearing them spoken in Clarke's nasal, Salford twang (although my imagination did its best to supply it).