Friday, August 18, 2006

Not Pete Doherty

Since the first libertine was not, as younger viewers might think, Pete Doherty, I think we can welcome a new magazine devoted to liberating language - and, it's probably long overdue a magazine that was not afraid to mix songwriting with poetry. Anyway, The Libertine will be with us shortly. and with a Myspace showing of 906 friends already, its good to see that small presses are finding Myspace as much fun as bands. Issue 1's submission date is gone, and although first issue contents "Carol Ann Duffy waxes lyrical...Talking Lennon/McCartney, Mozart and Morrisey!" seems a little mainstream for my tastes, I look forward to reading it. I've a book here, (honestly, I didn't have to dig very far!) called "Sweet Nothings" - "an anthology of rock and roll in American poetry" and though part of me thinks this is a BAD THING, I also quite like bad things. For instance, its clear that any representative anthology of Manchester poetry should include Mark E. Smith, John Cooper Clarke and Morrissey; and if it widened to the North West then I'm sure you should also include Paul Simon's wistful "Homeward Bound" written at Widnes Station. Yet, its not always a good idea to mix poetry and music. Poets seem to age prematurely even when they're not actually that ancient. On the one hand you get a young-ish Paul Muldoon waxing lyrical about a number of his favourite albums (all, if I remember correctly, safe middle-of-the-road seventies rock and, er... "Parallel Lines") that will probably kill any mystique he ever had; on the other hand you get Clark Coolidge writing a little pamphlet called Neil Young. I guess I'd be surprised if any poet under 50 - say, Simon Armitage for instance - was as oblivious of pop music as a previous generation; yet just as it seems very few poets have much interest in novels, (except their own), they rarely have much interest in "pop music" either. Possibly a good thing, since an interest in Massive Attack or Prodigy would date your poem as much as a bubble perm or bell bottoms, but a shame as well, since "popular song" has found its way into poets as diverse as Eliot and Ashbery. Mention the ubiquitous Beatles or Dylan and you're probably okay, just a little dull.

No comments: