Sunday, October 07, 2007

Here's an interesting article about Dylan's poetics of voice.


This article seeks to examine the literary pleasures derived from Bob Dylan’s songs, paying special attention to how Dylan’s poetical texts are performed and rhythmically rewritten by his voice, as well as the ways in which Dylan uses the songs to “write himself” through the creation of numerous and competing personae. Close reading of the lyrics, this article argues, must therefore be supplemented by a “poetics of the voice” and a detailed analysis of the theatricality of his “games of masks.” While a stylistic approach to the lyrics reveals a thrust towards writerly openness and new poetical idioms that fuse oral traditions with high poetry, the aesthetic and semantic uses Dylan makes of his voice are equally sophisticated. A study of Dylan’s “masks” will show that the artist uses archetypal poetic identities (prophet, trickster, man of sorrow, and so on) as fictional figurations of himself offered to the audience.

"Their monument sticks like a fishbone
in the city's throat."

I've never dug Robert Lowell's poetry but I found myself thinking of his line from "For the Union Dead" while in Washington DC last week. Lowell's patrician imagery and metaphor has always rubbed me the wrong way, but there are a few lines from his poetry that really work and resonate with me. I also caught myself thinking of Langston Hughes and the famous meeting between Hughes and Vachel Lindsay at the Wardman Park Hotel in DC where Hughes was employed at the time (which makes me think of when Jean Michel Basquiat entered the restaurant where Warhol was eating to try to sell him his "ignorant art" postcards).

Plus thinking of Hughes (being from Lincoln, Illinois) seemed logical because the ghost of Lincoln looms large in our nation's capital. I've always thought Hughes to be truer than Whitman to the cadence of America.

Here's a pic from the "Haunted Washington" walking tour I took, which was kewl. The ghost of Dolly Madison is scheduled to appear again on the porch pictured in the photo above sometime soon.