Release Date: 19 July 2010
2 hours 46 minutes
The Western World in the years since the Second World War, decade by decade, generation by generation, has seen the rise of youth movements and counter cultures - the common thread to those movements has been poetry, music and protest. Taken from performances in the 1980s, this superb feast-of-poets 2-hour 46-minute film features Counter Culture beat hero and Dylan sideman Allen Ginsberg with poetry and keyboard, the Liverpool/Mersey Poets performances from Roger McGough, Adrian Henri, Brian Patten, Adrian Mitchell and Sasha Mitchell, across into the Punk and 1980s counter culture world with Benjamin Zephaniah, John Cooper Clarke, Jules the Punk Poet and even more poetry from stalwarts of counter culture, Tom Pickard, Martin Metz, Gregory Corso, Basil Bunting, Bob Cobbing, Liz Lochead and Robert L. Fisher. The Liverpool poets' approach to poetry differs from that of other poets in that they consistently give the impression of being real people getting to grips with real and pressing situations. Nobody knows whether we were catalysts or invented something, or just the froth riding on a wave of its own. We were all three, I suppose.
Allen Ginsberg says: “The Liverpool poets paved the way for a subsequent flourishing of performance and pop-based work by punk poets John Cooper Clarke, Jules the Punk Poet, Attila the Stockbroker, John Hegley and Benjamin Zephaniah.” Punk has generated a considerable amount of poetry and prose. Examples of punk poets include Richard Hell, Jim Carroll, Patti Smith, John Cooper Clarke, Jules the Punk Poet, Rivington Spike, Seething Wells, Raegan Butcher and Attila the Stockbroker. The Medway Poets performance group included punk musician Billy Childish and had an influence on Tracey Emin. Jim Carroll's autobiographical works are among the first known examples of punk literature.
The punk subculture has inspired the cyberpunk and steampunk literature genres. In the 1960s, Liverpool was termed by US beat poet Allen Ginsberg, "the centre of the consciousness of the human universe", owing to the rise of The Beatles, The Mersey Sound and the Liverpool poets.
This poetry film shows a broad spectrum of poets and counter culture heroes filmed at a 1980s poetry event and even crosses over into musical genres with John Cooper Clarke and Allen Ginsberg bridging those gaps. The so-called Beat Generation was a whole bunch of people of all different nationalities who came to the conclusion that society sucked. “Three writers does not a generation make” - Gregory Corso. Former Heswall, Wirral and Rochdale resident DJ John Peel, who was then working on the pirate radio station Radio London, read much of the work of the Liverpool Poets on his late-night Perfumed Garden show.
After Radio London closed down, Peel visited Liverpool and met the poets, Adrian Henri and his band the Liverpool Scene and, as a consequence, they were featured in session on his BBC Top Gear and Night Ride shows. In 1968, Peel produced their first LP. No coincidence then that Peel should be the first national DJ to champion Punk on the radio.