Poly Styrene, 1957-2011

The former X-Ray Spex singer has died aged 53.

The punk icon Poly Styrene, the former singer of X-Ray Spex, died yesterday after battling cancer. She released her third solo album, Generation Indigo, last month.

Poly Styrene, whose real name was Marion Elliot-Said, emerged on the punk scene in 1978 fronting the band X-Ray Spex. Their acclaimed debut album Germ Free Adolescents included the hits "The Day the World Turned Dayglo", "Identity", and "Germ Free Adolescents" (below).

 

In an interview with The Quietus last month Elliot-Said reflected upon her reluctance to be labelled as a sex symbol. "I was very conscious of being taken seriously," she said. "I did cover myself up a lot with my clothes. I had a very quirky style but I wanted to be respected for my music, my lyrics specifically."

She alluded to the permanency of her music, and her need to continue working: "This body is just a material body, like an outer shell. It will deteriorate and die, but we can leave something behind in our music or art."

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“Minoan pendant”: a new poem by Mark Granier

“Yes – I press my nose / to the pleasantly warm glass – / it’s a copy of one I saw / cased in the cool museum”

Yes – I press my nose
to the pleasantly warm glass –
it’s a copy of one I saw
cased in the cool museum –
gold beaten to honey, a grainy
oval dollop, flanked by two
slim symmetrical bees –

garland for a civilisation’s
rise and collapse, eye-dropped
five thousand years: a flash
of evening sun on a windscreen
or wing mirror – Heraklion’s
scooter-life buzzing and humming –

as I step in to browse, become
mesmerised by the warm
dark eyes of the woman
who gives her spiel and moves
softly and with such grace,
that, after leaving, I hesitate

a moment on the pavement
then re-enter with a question
I know not to ask, but ask
anyway, to hear her voice
soften even more as she smiles
and shakes her hair – no.

Mark Granier is an Irish poet and photographer. He is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Haunt (Salmon).

This article first appeared in the 16 June 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Britain on the brink