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Mark Coles, R4 Today Programme
"In recent years Reed has wanted to be read"
 real 28k

Saturday, 8 April, 2000, 11:36 GMT 12:36 UK
Pop becomes poetry
lou reed
Should Lou Reed be the Poet Laureate of New York?
Poet laureate Andrew Motion has said that Bob Dylan is a great poet whose work should be treated as seriously as Keats or Dylan Thomas.

Now it is the rock singer Lou Reed's turn for serious literary attention.

His lyrics are being released as a poetry anthology, sparking a debate about whether rock and pop lyrics really literature.

Just a perfect day, drink Sangria in the park. And then later when it gets dark, we go home.

Perfect Day, Lou Reed

Reed has always taken song-writing seriously-First in the 60's with The Velvet Underground and then with his solo work.

In the 90's he started giving poetry recitals, reading lyrics live on stage.

This week he is going one step further with the release of Pass Through Fire - the complete literary anthology of his work.

I live with thirteen dead cats. A purple dog that wears spats. They're all living out in the hall. And I can't stand it any more

I can't stand it, Lou Reed
"It is a real collection. It is for others to judge whether they are poetry or lyrics. I was hoping very much that the reader would be able to feel them without music," he said.

His biographer, Victor Bockis goes one step further, saying Lou Reed with his tales of urban life is the uncrowned poet laureate of New York city.

Ev'rybody knows that Baby's got new clothes. But lately I see her ribbons and her bows, have fallen from her curls.

Just like a woman, Bob Dylan

"He's a great poet, Lou Reed is a hero someone to be looked upon as a man who made great accomplishments in many fields.

"I think Lou Reed will deservedly be seen as being a kind of witness of his times."

He is the not the only wordsmith to win plaudits for his prose.

I could be a writer with a growing reputation. I could be the ticket man at Fulham Broadway Station. What a waste!"

Ian Dury

Singer, Ian Dury, who died recently, will no doubt be remembered more for his quirky lyrics than his singing voice.

He penned the unforgettable songs like Wake up and Make Love to Me, Reasons to be Cheerful, Part Three and What a Waste.

But most of the lyrics to songs currently topping the charts are still dismissed as instantly forgettable.

However as musicians start to gain more respect for their literary talents it's only a matter a time before English students start submitting dissertations on alliteration in Oasis and bathos in The Beastie Boys.

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12 Feb 00 | Europe
Lou Reed cancels Austrian gig
02 Apr 00 | Entertainment
CD Review: Lou Reed
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