In 2016 Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Poetry and music have always gone hand in hand. From the Beats of Greenwich Village and their Jazz Cafes, to John Cooper Clarke’s gritty Mancunian punk poetry, many a poet has blurred the gap between literature and music.
In celebration of World Poetry Day, Megan Ridgway considers four icons who define the long lived relationship between poetry and music.
In 2018 when she published How To Be Invisible – a collection of her lyrics laid out as poetry – Kate Bush sparked a familiar if tiring debate with many questioning whether lyrics can be counted as poetry. People asked, can Pop Music be classed as art?
All in all, Kate Bush has always been a storyteller and her lyrics, rich with stunning imagery and layered meaning, present themselves as exquisite prose and offer a curious insight into the mind and artistry of one of Britains most unique musicians.
“I think that’s what you look for when you read poetry; you look for someone to illuminate a landscape that you thought you alone walked on.” When discussing Federico García Lorca’s poetry, Leonard Cohen also unintentionally and perhaps unaware, on his own alluring appeal.
Both a self-aware, grim comedian and a man who could turn the most mundane of scenes into a stanza brimming with life, love and sparks of the sort of emotions most people would struggle to put into words.
He wrote in private and to talk of his poetry was in his eyes, an unnecessary vanity, but Cohens poetry speaks for itself.
A musician, an artist, a grave philosopher, Leonard Cohen was a walking contradiction. Balanced between divinity and despair, Cohen was an enigmatic storyteller whose work is both troubled and touching.
As child she had no real-life expectations, just a head full of daydreams and a longing for independence, as a woman she was inspired, an illustrious punk with all the drive, all the lust for life of a true artist.
The woman who taught me,
to write remembering all the little things you notice in those moments which mean the world
And that not being where you thought you would be at 21,
Does not mean you won’t ever grow to love where you end up.
“Poems are like prayers,” she said, “a way of staying in contact, sometimes just with yourself,” her poetry is bold, sometimes outrageous and often, full of love, for life, for others and for herself.
The lost poetry of Lou Reed was published in 2018 under the title Do Angels Need Haircuts? Though the collection was originally penned in the 1970’s just after Lou Reed left The Velvet Underground, lines such as “We are the crystal gaze returned through the density and immensity of a berserk nation” burn with the same twisted passion of the Beat Generation.
In truth, this collection might as well have been written by any modern day male, frustrated adolescent type. Reed’s words flow from the tongue and linger leaving you ruminating around thoughts of love, sex, and whiskey just as he did, writing them.
Words by Megan Ridgway
“Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings. Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and, over centuries, can communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures.”
In celebrating World Poetry Day, March 21, UNESCO recognizes the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind.
Learn more about World Poetry Day:
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