In the wake of Lou Reed’s death last week, a piece of mine about Reed — “‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’: Lou Reed and the New York School of Poetry” — was published on the Poetry Foundation’s blog, as part of their “Open Door” feature. I’m very interested in the longstanding, serious connections between Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground and poetry, something that hasn’t been discussed very much in the outpouring of obits, recollections, and assessments after his death. He’s often referred to as a “punk poet” or “poet laureate of New York,” but this is usually used in the metaphorical sense (just as Dylan is called a “poet”). His interest in poetry is much more extensive, and in this piece, I argue that the Velvet Underground evolves out of American poetry and art in the 1960s in a way that is really unlike any other phenomenon in rock music.
The piece can be found here and I posted some more reflections on Reed and poetry on my blog here.