Monday, 23 June 2008

Dylan & Dylan

There was no getting away from Dylan Thomas this weekend, with all the papers carrying reviews of The Edge Of Love, the new film about his complicated love life. I wouldn't have high hopes for it anyway, because as Simon Armitage says in All Points North, films about poets are generally pretty wretched, but this one has the additional handicap of Keira Knightley's acting.

But I have a bit of a problem with the whole concept, anyway. To me, it encourages people to treat the poetry itself as autobiography. It's the same sort of uncomfortable feeling I had with Ted Hughes' Birthday Letters, or Carol Ann Duffy's Rapture. Not that they weren't both fine books, but I did feel that too much of the interest in both was down to prurient interest in the poets' lives, and indeed the other poets in their lives.

But enough complaining. Saturday's Guardian also contained the first in their latest series of giveaway booklets (chapbooks, in fact). They're all about great lyricists, and perhaps not surprisingly they started off with Bob Dylan. A small selection of lyrics (including Desolation Row, Visions of Joanna and Tangled Up In Blue) presented as poetry, plus an intro by Greil Marcus and two 1965 articles about the great man. We've talked before on here about whether lyrics are ever true poetry - this little book made a good case for, I think.

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