Daniel Rachel on the protest poets

10 May 2017

It’s well-known that musicians, such as The Clash, X-Ray Spex, Paul Weller, Tracey Thorn, Billy Bragg and The Specials became instigators of social change in the UK from the late 1970s, through movements such as Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone and Red Wedge.

It wasn’t just musicians that came together to challenge racism, gender inequality and social and class divisions in this pivotal period between 1976 and 1992. Here, author of the award-winning Walls Come Tumbling Down Daniel Rachel selects the poets that also played a key role in those crucial sixteen years in Britain's history. 

 

Linton Kwesi Johnson

“It was a political act because it was about identity. It was about challenging the domination of the English canon and we were waging a political struggle; and culture and creativity was an important aspect of that struggle.” Linton Kwesi Johnson

 

Porky the Poet

“I was in there answering the phone and helping Paul Bower, who would occasionally give us money for buses. There was a lot of optimism and good intention and ‘we can do this’, but it became apparent that we were seen as a frivolity by the Labour staff. There was a lot of, ‘Who are they?’ But once they’d given us the office and the photocopier key and helped us to print leaflets it was like, ‘Right, OK, well, they’re doing their thing now.’” Porky the Poet on Red Wedge and the working with the Labour Party

 

John Cooper Clarke

 
“When I saw Joe Strummer I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Then when I saw John Cooper Clarke I realised that the best way to do it was with poetry. He was bleakly political rather than directly confrontational but there was definitely the perspective of a working-class bloke from Salford talking about his life: Keith Joseph smiles and a baby dies in Beasley Street. That was brilliant.” John Baine on John Cooper Clarke
 

Joolz Denby

 
“Joolz commanded such respect and silence. It was the fact there was room for poets. I always liked the direct communication. It was very immediate.” Phill Jupitus on Joolz Denby
 
 

Walls Come Tumbling DownThe Music and Politics of Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone and Red Wedge

Daniel Rachel

Through the voices of campaigners, musicians, artists and politicians, Walls Come Tumbling Down follows the rise and fall of three key movements: Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone, and Red Wedge, revealing how they all shaped, and were shaped by, the music of a generation.

>>>Start reading now       

 
 
 

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