News article and photo from Observer
Photo credit: Chris Sorensen for Observer
The 19th-century cult icon’s poetry becomes a musical..
There’s this aestheticized legend of the late poet Arthur Rimbaud as the archetypal enfant terrible. Forever immortalized as the original bohemian, Rimbaud arrives in Paris to become the 19th century’s pre-eminent flâneur, wandering the streets with his married male lover, the symbolist poet Paul Verlaine, in an absinthe and hashish-induced haze. Then, at the height of his popularity as poetry’s hip, young bad boy, Rimbaud left Paris for Ethiopia, only to die of cancer in self-imposed exile.
While countless artists consider Rimbaud among their primary inspirations, the poet’s influence on New York’s legendary downtown scene was captured on celluloid in experimental filmmaker Jack Smith’s perverse kitsch or could be seen in Basquiat’s juxtapositions of jarring words and iconographic images.
Patti Smith wrote about Rimbaud often, considering his work among the most honest, true-to-life words she’d ever read and for years played a “Rock ‘n’ Rimbaud” tribute to him on his birthday. The frontman of the seminal New York art-punk band Television, Tom Miller, christened himself Tom Verlaine after reading about Rimbaud’s affairs. Bob Dylan, who echoed Rimbaud’s eventual rejection of poetry when he consciously rejected the folk scene to go electric (as portrayed in the Todd Haynes’ 2007 tribute flick to Mr. Dylan, I’m Not There), also stylized much of his surrealist work around the young poet. Indeed, Mr. Dylan’s collection of poetry, Tarantula, reads as a veritable love letter to Rimbaud’s lucid, pre-surrealist imagery.
Rimbaud in New York
Brooklyn Academy of Music
March 1-6, 2016