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Bob Dylan, Bathtubs, Poetry and Harold Bloom

Published June 12, 2008 Posted by
Here's a fun interview from Eurozine that goes off into some interesting directions, including discussing poetry writing and Harold Bloom (the comments on him even made me laugh a bit).

Ieva Lesinska, Christopher Ricks
A lesson in Dylan appreciation
April 11, 2008

Christopher Ricks, professor of humanities at Boston University and professor of poetry at Oxford University, is famous for his close readings of Milton, Keats, and Eliot, and also for his passion for the music of Bob Dylan. This culminated in his book Dylan's Visions of Sin (2003), an analysis of Dylan's lyrics that had some critics grumble that Ricks could talk one into believing that even a phone book is poetry. Ieva Lesinska, editor of Rigas Laiks, decided to find out for herself.
Ieva Lesinska: Professor Ricks, why do you have a bathtub in your office?

Christopher Ricks: It's Bob Dylan's childhood bathtub. It's where the young Dylan made his first splash. It belongs to two former Boston University alumni. They saw it on e-bay and wondered whether to buy it; I urged them to do so.

IL: One of the things I'd really like to understand is why it is that I fail to appreciate Bob Dylan?

CR: And what does your psychoanalyst say about this problem?

IL: I don't have one. I mean, I don't have a psychoanalyst.

CR: I know what you mean: there's an immense lot of art out in the world that people I care about praise highly that means nothing to me. I've been to museums that are full of plates, but I've never seen a plate that would make any difference to my life. I've never seen a Braque painting that would mean anything to me. But I can't ignore Picasso or Daumier. On the other hand, you could ask: "I love Leonard Cohen, so how come I don't love Bob Dylan?"

IL: But I don't love Leonard Cohen, I find him somewhat tedious.

CR: Well, good. That's the right answer, as you surely know.

IL: When I read Dylan's lyrics, I know that I should like him, because the lyrics work for me. But when I hear the voice, first of all I can't hear the lyrics anymore, there's just that nasal tone that I don't much care for. But I've really tried.

CR: And why should you like him?

Read the rest on Eurozine.
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