From Punk Poetry to Sea Shells and Shovelled Sands

Dr. John Cooper Clarke creates the ‘Nation’s Ode to the Coast’

  • Dr. John Cooper Clarke has created the first verses of a new poem – ‘Nation’s Ode to the Coast’ – to encourage the UK to experience the coast this summer
  • The collaboration with the National Trust aims to raise awareness of the beauty of the rugged British shoreline and the experiences it can offer
  • The nation is invited to help finish the poem by sharing their memories and love of the coast using #lovethecoast

The Clash, Plan B, The Arctic Monkeys, Elvis Costello and now… the National Trust. 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. The activity aims to encourage the nation to share their passions for these beautiful places and raise awareness of the care needed to manage them, so they can be enjoyed by future generations.

Inspired by his own connections to the sea, Dr. John Cooper Clarke has written the first verses of ‘Nation’s Ode to the Coast’ to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Trust’s Neptune Coastline Campaign.

The collaboration between the charity and the poet offers inspiring and evocative lines which bring to life the diversity of the British coast on our doorsteps. The release of the poem will also help 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 so special.

Following the launch of the first verses, the public is now being asked to help Dr. John Cooper Clarke complete the poem by submitting contributions that sum up their love for the coast. The contributions 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 sounds, with submissions made using #lovethecoast.

Dr. John Cooper Clarke, who will also voiceover a TV ad campaign launching on 13th July, said: “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 and also maintaining the pathways that enable the more landlocked citizens of these islands to visit the coast. When the sun’s shining on it, there’s nothing more beautiful, and I can’t think of a better way to convey the metaphysical nature of the sea than through a poem.”

Gwen Potter, wildlife and countryside ranger at the National Trust said: “Looking after the British coastline is a big responsibility, with many not aware of the care and protection it actually needs. 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. 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.”

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.

The ambitious project that aims to save the UK coastline has been powered by the generosity and support of hundreds of thousands of people to date. 2015 also sees the Trust announce a new coastal vision for the future, helping to continue to grow and protect our shorelines for ever, for everyone.

Throughout the summer there will be a huge host of National Trust activities varying from working with writers, artists and musicians to capture what the coast means to the nation, to a collaboration with The British Library to record the sound of UK shores. The campaign also aims to simply encourage families to get down to their nearest beaches and try out a bit of rock pooling, wave jumping and crab-catching this summer and beyond.

The National Trust is here to protect the coast: for ever, for everyone.