The language of popular music topic of Carleton lecture

October 21, 2016

On the heels of the recent news of Bob Dylan being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, Carleton College presents “The Poetry of Pop,” a talk about the fundamental mysteries in the language of popular music, on Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 5 p.m. in the Carleton College Gould Library Athenaeum.

Kanye West. Taylor Swift. Beyoncé. Despite their obvious differences in sound and style, all of these artists are in the business of setting words to music. When written down on the page, song lyrics look a lot like poems: line breaks, patterns of rhythm and rhyme, similes and metaphors. Some critics argue, however, that even great song lyrics make poor poems.

The lyrics to pop songs embody contradiction: they are among the most cherished and memorable words in the world, but they are also among the most disparaged and overlooked. This talk explores some of the fundamental mysteries surrounding the language of popular music: the relationships between word and song, between poetry and performance. Drawing on sound, image, and video, the audience will be taken on a behind-the-scenes journey into the magic, mystery, and mayhem that is the poetry of pop.

“The Poetry of Pop” will be delivered by Adam Bradley, a professor of English at the University of Colorado-Boulder, where he directs the Laboratory for Race & Popular Culture (RAP Lab). His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and in numerous other publications. He is the author or editor of five books, including Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop; The Anthology of Rap; and the New York Times bestseller One Day It’ll All Make Sense, a memoir he wrote for the rapper and actor Common. His sixth book, The Poetry of Pop, will be published in early 2017.

This event is sponsored by the Carleton College Department of English. For more information, including disability accommodations, call (507) 222-4322. The Gould Library is located off College Street on the Carleton campus and is also accessible via Highway 19 in Northfield.