Johnsie St Clare

Introducing the Author

Sound Collages
Concrete Poems
YouTube Channel
Imagist Poems
Cloud Poems
Rhymed verse

The People's Poet
I’ve done many things to stay alive, from running a property company in Central London to sweeping roads and driving a mini-cab. I’ve been a goat-herd in the mountains of Morocco, a lawyer, a university lecturer, a property developer, writer, musician, gambler and bum. I even used to perform in a pop band and run a record company and recording studio.

I started writing at an early age and by the time I was fifteen I was performing my audio collages. Here is a clip from one of them:

I spent a lot of my schooldays skiving off to Spain, and lived for some time in Barcelona in the dark days of the Franco regime. No-one would talk about the Civil War so I wrote a rather long poem about it. The English text is included in my book Poet in Spain. Rather foolishly I tried to get the Spanish version published in Spain, only to end up being visited and threatened by the secret police.

The following day I was even more foolish (I was only sixteen). I went and sat in the middle of the Ramblas and read the poem aloud in the original Spanish. As I finished each page I ostentatiously set fire to it.

You can read the English here.
I started reading my material at folk clubs and pubs up and down the UK, with a regular spot at The Load of Hay in Bath. I also read during the intervals at rock concerts. Here's an example from that period.

My next brush with censorship was in 1971 when I was doing a reading of my Noddy Poems in the Parade Gardens in Bath as part of the Bath Festival. Blue language was not tolerated in those hallowed grounds. My sound was cut and two burly gardeners escorted me off the premises.
In the meantime I traveled to Africa and gave readings in Cairo and along the Nile, and in Addis Ababa. These are included in my book The Nile Trilogy, except that the number of poems ended up rather more than three. The book is available from Amazon here is the link .

While I was in Cairo I got a job as a visiting lecturer at the Arab University teaching modern English poetry. I was mainly teaching the latest craze, which was concrete art. This led me to create my own. You can see some of them here.

When I returned to the UK I visited John Furnival who helped me with my own ventures into that art form.
I subsequently had a one-man exhibition across Southern England with those art works. This was later included in an exhibition which toured the Eastern United States, and led to me writing words to the spontaneous musical experiments of John Cage.
A memorable occasion for me was when the two of us played pianos in the garden of a famous arts patron in what John claimed was intended to be a quartet: Him, Me, Scattered conversation, and the Birdsong.
I was introduced by Bob Cobbing to the electronic sound studio at Southampton university, and another in Stockholm, where I spent an interesting winter.

I was offered a grant by the Arts Council to get a four track recording machine, though I ended up having to buy it myself, and started recording sound collages.

Here's one of me doing a tribute to John Cage. The backing track is my music, not his.

Bringing up a family put an end to my gigs, although I have managed to appear on radio in the UK and tv in the Netherlands. But my next book of poems won an award which was judged by Edwin Morgan, Scotland's then poet laureate. A copy is available on Amazon. Here's the link.

I now live most of the time in Southern Portugal where I am trying to rationalise my extensive literary works, and publish everything. It's proving to be a major operation as I write non-fiction and novels as well, and the current count of completed books is just short of sixty.