Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bob Dylan's Favorite Poets

The site, poets.org, includes a long essay on Bob Dylan and poetry. The essay claims that a debate about whether Dylan is a poet has "raged" for a long time. I don't think it's raged very much, and I don't think there's much of a debate, although I wouldn't care to rage about the question. He writes and records ballads, among other things, and ballads are poems. Of course, everyone has an opportunity to argue about how good the ballads (etc.) are--as popular songs or as poems or as both. But that's a separate question.

The essay mentions scholar Christopher Ricks, of course, who has written extensively in support of treating Dylan's work as poetry. A paragraph from the essay:

"Christopher Ricks, who has also penned books about T. S. Eliot and John Keats, argues that Dylan's lyrics not only qualify as poetry, but that Dylan is among the finest poets of all time, on the same level as Milton, Keats, and Tennyson. He points to Dylan's mastery of rhymes that are often startling and perfectly judged."

Also, the essay notes that among Dylan's favorite poets are Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, and Woody Guthrie. Dylan is also said to like Smokey Robinson as a poet.
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