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Ode to the Coast

From punk poetry to ‘a big fat sky and a thousand shrieks’
Beach Picture from MyGreenPod Sustainable News

One of Britain’s most celebrated poets, Dr John Cooper Clarke, has penned the start of a new poem reflecting the nation’s love affair with the coast.

Known for his punk poetry and work with music stars including The Clash, Plan B, Arctic Monkeys and Elvis Costello, Clarke’s poem will help bring the coast to life this summer.

We’re being invited to help finish the poem by sharing inspiring memories and our love of the coast using #lovethecoast.

Punk poet Dr John Cooper Clarke


An Ode to the Coast

In collaboration with the National Trust, the poem will highlight the powerful emotions our diverse coastline can convey and the care that is needed to protect it.

A big fat sky and a thousand shrieks
The tide arrives and the timber creaks
A world away from the working week
Ou est la vie nautique?
That’s where the sea comes in…

Nation’s Ode to the Coast, Dr John Cooper Clarke

The hope is that Nation’s Ode to the Coast will encourage more people in the UK to experience the coast this summer.

A glimpse of eternity

The release of the poem will kick-start a summer-long campaign to encourage people to share their love for the awe-inspiring beaches, cliff tops, piers and more that make this island nation.

‘The sea has been a rich source of inspiration to me from year zero. It’s a glimpse of eternity available to every inhabitant, so I’m right behind the National Trust on keeping the coast beautiful.’

John Cooper Clarke, punk poet

Reconnect with a majestic landscape

The public’s contribution will help inspire Dr Clarke to create the rest of the verses of the poem, which will be unveiled in autumn. The contributions can take the form of words, pictures, social media posts or even seaside sounds.

‘We are asking the nation to get involved over the summer and share their favourite coastal memories – past, present and future – with us in any form to help us complete the poem and encourage people to reconnect with this majestic landscape.’

Gwen Potter, wildlife and countryside ranger at the National Trust

Neptune Coastline Campaign

Inspired by his own connections to the sea, Clarke’s poem celebrates the 50th anniversary of the National Trust’s Neptune Coastline Campaign.

Launched in May 1965, the Neptune Coastline Campaign is one of the longest running environmental campaigns in western Europe, and has resulted in the National Trust managing 775 miles of coast in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, equating to over 10% of the UK’s coastline.

‘Looking after the British coastline is a big responsibility… Several of our properties are iconic symbols of Great Britain – from the White Cliffs of Dover to the Gower Peninsular and the Jurassic Coast – that are visited by people from all over the world. We also care for and protect many rare species of plant and animal life, so it is crucial that we continue to care for these important pieces of land.’

Gwen Potter, wildlife and countryside ranger at the National Trust

Dr John Cooper Clarke will also voiceover a specially commissioned TV and cinema ad campaign launching in July, which is designed to inspire us all to visit the coast.

Click here to read the opening stanzas of the Nation’s Ode to the Coast.

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