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John Cooper Clarke interview: 'Poetry is not something you have to retire from'

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The one-time Bard of Salford on life in Essex, the state of our high streets and why Pam Ayres was an inspiration

You are quite well into your national tour. Do you still enjoy being on the road?
Yes, I've got a driver. Well, a hire car. The nearest I get to a limo. The show is mainly new material. I get a few requests from the audience, but I carry on regardless. I'm writing more than ever these days. The more you write, the more you write.

What's been on your mind?
It's hard to say what kicks it off. If there was an MO I would employ it all the time. But it's really just that old perspiration inspiration ratio. You've got to put the hours in.

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