This poem is acting.....
It's pretending it's important.
It's all swagger and bluff.
This poem does not realise
appearances are not enough -
It's got to MEAN something
whether it's whispering or screaming!
This poem does not have a heart
just a minimal calculating brain
getting away with masquerading tricks
which it uses time and time again.
Too many poems are murdered by posing pens
which stab like knives - Penknives!
That's a clever literary joke
hiding the fact that this poem has no life!
This poem could be screaming blue murder
at all injustice and inequality
but it gives out not a murmur........
This poem is devious;
It's content to have no relevant content
It's just sitting on the fence
and if it did have a message
it wouldn't make any difference;
who listens to poetry anyway?
It's only preaching to the converted.
Poetry won't change anything -
those who do not choose
to hear the whispers and screams
can ignore the truth and rage
by not even opening the book
to see the seething page.
SO THIS POEM DOESN'T EVEN TRY -
and if this poem was torn up, burnt, destroyed!
It would be no real loss
because this poem has given up -
It just couldn't give a toss!
I reckon that sets the tone of this post nicely. Atilla The Stockbroker thought it a suitable salvo too - it being the opening poem in his ripping Tirane Thrash. You'll find issue 1 of that caustic zine below along with a teeming trove of rantabulous delights. I've tried to cover the broadest range of poets & ranters as possible and barring the inevitable slippages from my crowded-out memory I've accounted for all those I can remember. Mark Schlossberg's, All The Poets lends us our title and given the alphabetic listing kicks us off in considerable style. Obviously there had to be some John Cooper Clarke and it must be said, Barney Bubble's JCC Directory 1979 is a brilliant publication. Naturally, influential stuff from Andy T et al is well accounted for. At any rate the anarcho strain of poetry had a huge impact on yours truly. Mick Turpin's, Another Day Another Word partially covers the Skinhead poets - excellent examples of which can be heard on the early Oi LPs, with Garry Johnson perhaps being the exemplar in the field (imo). True, the bulk of material here is testament to the virulence of the ranting rash that spread throughout the UK between '81-'84. Additional to the charmingly threatening cast of well-known ranters there ought to be a passing nod to the innumerable individuals taking to the nation’s stages for impromptu performances - some nervously wielding hastily scrawled screeds and others with just a head full of anger and a tongue willing to tell it straight. It’s probable that most cities and towns had unrecorded outbreaks of the ranting bug. To illustrate, Bradford is well represented here, boasting as it does such luminaries as Seething Wells (RIP), Nick Toczek, Joolz, Little Brother, and Wild Willy Beckett (RIP). But off the top of my head I can also cite from that fair City Rudi the Poet, Tony Palmer, and Jacko as incessant ranters for whom little or no documentary material remains. So this is in no way an attempt to anthologise the whole of the ranting movement - that'd be as preposterous as trying to record the entirety of fanzine output. As ever, contributions most welcome. Thanks to Andy T.
All The Poets #1, 1979
Great one here from Mark Schlossberg, Billy Carless and John Tottenham. Worth noting, Mark had an earlier hand in Skum fanzine circa '77. Three issues of ATP saw the light between '79-'80. I also have issue 2 which will appear here eventually.
Andy T Poems, 1981
Andy T's contributions to the Bullshit Detector compilation hugely influenced me and the kids around my neck of the woods. The Weary of the Flesh 7" for Crass Records saw Andy hitting a striking stride with a simply startling collection of poetry. All of that and more is collected in the thrumming pamphlet, Andy T Poems. The second of these publications is a seriously classy affair and is something of a collective effort featuring great collage work alongside the poetic contributions from Andy, Claire, Pam Demonium, Sioux, and Lee (see Anathema #1, Anathema #2, and Spitting Pretty Pikktures for a fuller view of Lee's impressive output). A right belter I tell ya! Andy remains vitally active as ever - catch him if you can.
Another Day Another Word, 1982
'Welcome to Another Day, Another Word. Hope you enjoy reading it because there's been a lot of hard work gone into it. Originally this fanzine was just meant to be a showcase of Mick Turpin's - Merseyside Poet - work (though at least half the poems in this fanzine are his). But, I decided to invite a few of the best up and coming poets in the country to contribute some of their work to this fanzine. I personally think that all the contributors here are shedding new light onto a scene that has been dominated by old sixties has beens and more recently John Cooper Clark and Linton Qwesi Johnson who have dominated poetry since the 76/77 Punk explosion. As Swells would say 'RANT AGAINST RELICS' and I hope this fanzine is a little help in giving Poetry/Rant a 76/77 style shake up'.
Editor/contributor Mick Turpin; compilation and layout by Al Turner; illustrations by Mackie + contributions from Atilla The Stockbroker, Seething Wells (see Molotov Cocktail for more top flight ranting), The Comrade, Ros Hutchinson, and Mark Scott.
Blaze #4, 1984
'Welcome to the ranting poetry section of Blaze 4, featuring classic works of English Literature from such hallowed and revered scribes as Kool Knotes, Attila The Stockbroker and Swift Nick. We start with a couple from Richard Kool Knotes Edwards, internationally renowned as the man behind the greatest fanzine in the history of the entire universe, Cool Notes - a man strangely obsessed with reggae buses and goats, who has only one major fault - he supports Colchester United!'
Cool Notes #6, 1982
Cool Notes was Richard Edwards' fanzine and being something of a ranter himself he always a reserved a bit of space for the versifiers. Just a few pages of Benjamin Zephaniah lifted from this issue.
Cool Notes #7, 1983
Again, just delving into this issue of Cool Notes and pulling out half a dozen excellent pages featuring Richards' The Daily Rant, Atilla The Stockbroker, Swift Nick, Bet Lynch, Seething Wells, Koll Knotes, Eric, and Joolz.
John Cooper Clarke Directory 1979
I'm fairly certain this is the first piece of Barney Bubbles to crop-up on EE - which is surprising really given the incredible amount of work BB churned out. Thing is, since BB pretty much never signed his creations it is possible that something has sneaked through uncredited. Anyway, The JCC Directory is a brilliant vehicle for the Salfordian bard's ace poetry and is neatly furnished throughout with Kevin Cummins, Tom Sheehan, and Paul Slattery photography.
Knee Deep In Shit #7, 1982
Just a couple a pages lifted from this issue of KDIS: Wild Willy Beckett's, Privilege finely illustrated by Joolz; and Joolz in her own write with Latest Craze.
The Eklektik #2, 1982
This dark beauty is credited to Sri Dred Nana and Notkotts which I think translates as Andy Palmer and T42 (Freddie 'Seaman' Stockton), both of whom to a greater or lesser degree formed part of Crass. In keeping with Exitstencil Press productions The Eklektik is an exquisite piece. Treat yourself and just luxuriate in its sumptuousness.
Tirane Thrash #1, 1983
Ahhhh, it's Tirane Thrash, Atilla The Stockbroker's 'Non-boring poetry 'zine' with the decided Albanian bent. Another superb collection of ranters: Nick Toczek, Rowena Tosh, Swift Nick, Rantin' Richie, Rivington Spyke, McGinn, Little Dave, Ginger John, Richard 'Cool Notes' Edwards, 'Bet Lynch', Patricia Macrae Pete Campbell, Pat Condell, Dino The Frog, Seething Wells, Little Brother, Passa Fist, Stephen Schuurman, and Porky's (Phil Jupitus) cartoons. Not Forgetting the Albanian Poetry (Dritero Agnoli, Faslli Canaj, Rezear Xhaxhiu), Albanian Football, Albanian Cookery, Albanian Radio and much more about Albania.