HUDDERSFIELD? Well I think I’ve travelled through it before,” was comedian John Cooper Clarke’s recollection of this great town!

Salford’s superb no-nonsense, sharp-delivering poet is in town on Saturday at the LBT as part of the Huddersfield Literature Festival.

But, when prompted by his agent Richard, he hazily recalled a gig at Huddersfield University a couple of years ago.

“Yeah, I remember that gig,” recalled the Manchester ace, laconically. “I got chatting with Simon Armitage afterwards, he’s a good bloke.”

With calls from some quarters for Huddersfield-based Armitage to become the next poet laureate when Andrew Motion quits next year, there is also a group formed on social network site Facebook calling for the Manchester bard to be recognised.

“Simon Armitage for poet laureate? Well he’d certainly be better than Roger ‘expletive’ McGough! I was very disappointed to hear him linked with that. But what’s it all about anyway, that poet laureate stuff anyway?”

After explaining that there’s a bit of an underground network calling for his appointment as the ‘chief poet for the nation’, he added: “Well, I don’t think there’s much chance of that! The only ‘Royle’ royal family I’m interested in stars Ricky Tomlinson and Caroline Aherne.

“As long as it’s not McGough, we’ll be okay. Liam (Gallagher) missed the chance to take him out a while back and didn’t ... I was very disappointed with that.”

In his shows, audiences are to expect a mix of hilarious anecdotes of life in a Northern town interspersed with machine-gun fast delivery of some of his best poems.

It’s said if you think poetry is dull and boring, posh or erudite – you haven’t seen JCC.

Clarke has opened for such acts as the Sex Pistols, The Fall, Joy Division, Buzzcocks, Elvis Costello, and New Order (on the occasion of their May, 1984 Music for Miners benefit concert at London's Royal Festival Hall).

With his hour and a half set at the LBT due to be packed full of brand new material – with probably the credit crunch playing active part – Johnny recalled, “I remember there was this shop in Huddersfield covered in white paint which spelled out, ‘No prices, just make us an offer – make us an offer we can’t refuse.’

“So, this credit crunch seems to be having an upside here, a buyer’s market no less! It’s probably terrible out there but, to be honest, I don’t know.”

Having released a handful of records into the early 1980s, Clarke performed his live act less frequently, as he battled a heroin addiction, but has stormed back on to the scene where he continues to attract an eclectic audience, nationally.

“I was in London a few week ago and the only north-south divide I’ve discovered is there’s more summer in the south,” he said. “It was like we’d just reached the equator. There’s always a good, healthy crowd down there. A gag’s a gag at the end of the day, England’s not that big.”

His ‘punk poet’ moniker has not always rested easily on his energetic, jumpy shoulders.

“Ah, yessss, I’ve carried that bloody millstone around my neck, but I was never really a part of it. I just jumped on the bandwagon,” he revealed.

“To be a punk was to be pretty stupid and violent, that’s why it burned out.

“Take the Buzzcocks – and they’re still going. They could sing about sensitive things about a person or life’s experiences, they were solid subjects for songs like, ‘Ever Fallen in Love,’ – they could use family life and relationships and it gave them timeless classics. They also had a soft side which stood them in good stead.

“But that doesn’t work for me. Too much everyday stuff gets my back up, for me to use too much sentimentality in my gigs.”

But, he added: “I have slowed it down a bit now, on good advice. When I started out, I used to read at a leisurely pace in folk clubs and jazz bars – but then I jumped on the punk bandwagon and everything speeded up and, like any genius I just didn’t listen!

“Now I’ve begun to take it on board and chilled it down a bit.

“Hopefully I still tell poetry of a funny nature that people continue to enjoy. There’s a lot of new material on this tour and hopefully we’ll have a laugh and chat and we’ll dig out some favourites if that’s what folk want. I aim to please.”

Clarke has always been the voice for the man on the street but he has also shown a new generation that poetry can be rebellious while sharing the same everyday concerns that modern life can bring. In fact, his poetry was featured in a recent GCSE syllabus, which has gained him a new, young fan base!

He said: “There’s quite a lot of young people in the crowds now, I think that might have to do we me being featured on the GCSE syllabus recently! Yeah, it’s all good.”

And after featuring, as himself on stage, in Control – the highly-acclaimed biopic of Manchester band Joy Division – he added: “Yeah, I’ve had people in the street come and say, ‘Are you in Control?’ – and I’ve always wanted to reply ... ‘Well, what do you think ... Never!”

John Cooper Clarke at the LBT, Saturday, March 14: 8pm. Tickets: £15. Box Office: 01484 430528.For more information visit