Monday, May 15, 2006

sell outs and stanzas

At the Contemporary Poetry Review, Kathleen Rooney takes a look at how well the rock star fares as a poet, featuring reviews of David Berman, Billy Corgan, Mike Doughty, Art Garfunkel, Damon Krukowski, Paul McCartney, Lee Ranaldo, Patti Smith, and Jeff Tweedy.

According to Stephen Burt, in his essay “‘O, Secret Stars, Stay Secret!’: Rock and Roll in Contemporary Poetry,” we harbor numerous “assumptions about the differences—no, the contrasts—that separate poetry from rock and roll. Rock is easy, poetry hard to create. Rock is spontaneous and simple; poetry intricate, enduring, reflective. Rock is ephemeral, while poetry endures. And rock songs (for all those reasons) belong to the young, as poetry maybe did once but sure doesn’t now—or so we assume”. He goes on to argue that poetry to some extent craves the immediacy, spontaneity, fame, and—let’s face it—youthful hipness of rock and roll; poetry, or at least certain young poets, want to be cool. And while it is interesting to examine, as Burt does, why and how poets can be seen to covet rockstardom (or at least the trappings thereof) and how they incorporate elements of rock and roll into their poetry, it’s equally fascinating to explore a somewhat more puzzling phenomenon: recently multiple indie rock musicians have been seen to covet the power of poetry to such an extent that they are bringing out collections of their own, in some cases under the auspices of prestigious literary presses. In flipping Burt’s equation and examining its less obvious side, I would argue that just as certain poets long for rock’s visceral immediacy and audience, certain rock stars long for poetry’s durability, thoughtfulness, intimacy, individuality, outsider status and intellectual cachet. I would also argue that despite their evident differences, these two seemingly disparate art forms are actually more closely allied than the casual observer may perceive.

Again...Via Bookslut