By coinkydink, here's an excerpt from Bill Knott's blog:
"hey, you're a billionaire, and you're this supposed POET——
people (many people) call you a POET——
senile academics write books about your so-called POETRY——
even poets (some poets, not me) call you a POET——
you're a billionaire POET,
but you don't support the Academy of American Poets
or other poetry organizations——
okay, all you poets (print poets) who like to call Bod McDylan a POET——
imagine there were a poet, call her X, a print poet like you, who had
as much money as he does——
wouldn't you expect her, Ms. X, to financially support the PSA or the Poetry Foundation et al
and or provide funding for small magazines and presses?——
in fact, wouldn't you demand that of her?——wouldn't you feel she was spiritually and professionally
obliged to do it?
but you don't demand it of BD, do you——
if you want to posit him as a POET, alright, okay: but in that case i demand that you demand from him the same benefice you would expect from X——
you can't have it both ways, hypocrites——
You can't have him be a POET, and then exempt him from the obligations you would ask of any print poet in his income bracket..."
And... check out the debate about Dylan-as-poet in the zillions of comments on the Guardian site; wow.
Hm, I guess Bill doesn't really believe that pop lyrics are real poetry (most folks over the age of 22 probably don't, either, though I'm sure people can get a feeling of true spiritual exaltation from the tunes they enjoy), so the point must be about the money: fair enough.
As for Dylan: I only skimmed Chronicles - having devoted a chunk of my life to poetry at Harvard, I just loved the bit about old Archie MacLeish, I must say - but I relented on my own version of Bill's rant after I looked through the thing. Dylan is as plausibly affected by his reading of poetry as the next guy, and makes no special claims, himself. Christopher Ricks aside (and full disclosure: he was my dissertation advisor), the debate about whether he's a poet or not takes me way, way back, though. I mean, Dean [of Rock Criticism] Robert Christgau laid some of this to rest in 1967! When I was in junior high school, I got a worn-down book out of the library that had rock-lyrics-as-poetry in it, you know, Simon & Garfunkel, Procol Harum, The Beatles, that sort of thing, with poems by Real Poets, e.g., Tennyson and Browning, on facing pages. It read pretty badly as a poetry anthology, but I loved having the lyrics to songs so I could learn 'em. Heck, what kid wouldn't want to go around telling people "I am a rock, I am an island," John Donne or no? So I went on to writing my own really awful songs, being in a band, and thinking about being a millionaire rock star some day. I ended up in enough bands to discover how unlikely that prospect was. Still, the whole experience taught me tons more about prosody than you can get in a "creative writing" program. I wasn't an English major, but have never been confused about lyrics-as-poetry because, as everyone knows, lyrics are lyrics and go with a tune while poems have to stand up and fight for themselves with little more than what Basil Bunting called thumps. It's pretty simple, Wyn Cooper's stroke of literal good fortune notwithstanding.
They still come up with those lyric-as-poetry anthologies, but you'll learn more from things like Ezra Pound's attachment to the troubadours and Tom Pickard's incredible ballads. I don't care much whether Dylan, Jewel, Lou Reed (who studied with my hero Delmore Schwartz), Billy Childish, Paul McCartney, Jeff Tweedy, Billy Corgan or any of those folks support poetry directly or think of themselves as poets. I care that maybe they read poetry, and, having tried their hand at it, find out how hard it is and... for sure they'll learn how much less lucrative it is to write verse than to be a rock star; if I'm a fan, I only care that their music doesn't suck. Otherwise, let's face it: as Allen Ginsberg teaches Dylan in the clip above, even Keats' name was writ on water. And what po-biz really needs, maybe more than infusions of what we Memphians call "cash money," is its own version of Lester Bangs.
P.S. Guess what Madonna got for her 50th birthday? Yep. And how could I fail to mention Paul Muldoon's band?
P.P.S. For further study, see this issue of Vanitas, which has a "popular music" theme.
P.P.P.S. Looks like Bill has taken down the post. I regret this. And lastly: here's what Obama and McCain think of popular music!