Sorry, kids. It needed to be said. Read the whole story here.
As a lover of poetry, I always feel a deep gloom sinking on to me at the approach of National Poetry Day. Oh god, I think. There's going to be a lot of press releases. There's going to be an attempt to make poetry relevant and fun, by making it less like poetry. There's going to be… oh god.
This year, it's Bob Dylan. Children at key stages three and four English are going to be instructed to study the great man's work with the aid of a special "Dylan Education Pack", issued in honour of National Poetry Day.
In my mind and the minds of most people who give serious attention to his work as a lyricist, Dylan is a genius. But he's a songwriter, not a poet. It doesn't elevate his work to call it poetry any more than it elevates an apple to call it an orange; nor does it give you a useful way of thinking about it academically.
Some rock and pop lyrics, Dylan's among them, work as poetry - live differently, but also well, on the page. You'd expect that. Poetry and song - as the two main rhythmic uses of language - have the same origins and much in common.
But that's not to say they're the same thing. We share an ancestor with the chimpanzee, and we both like bananas, but we're not the same creature.
Sunday, 2 September 2007
Poetry and songwriting are different. Duh.
Bob Dylan (shown while still somewhat coherent) is a great songwriter, but he's no poet, says Sam Leith. I wholeheartedly agree! Students who want to write their poetry papers on their favourite songwriters are the bane of my existence! This story is from the Telegraph: