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When it comes to bad-boy cultural icons, you’ve got trigger-happy Rambo, and then you’ve got Rimbaud.

But only one was a poet. Only one shook and shaped poets and performers from Burroughs and Kerouac to Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Patti Smith and punk rock.

Arthur Rimbaud was the rebel, vagabond and drop-out dreamer who tore up centuries of French poetry and threw Paris on its ear — and did it with poetry written by the time he was nineteen. Then he dropped the pen and took off for Africa.

This hour, On Point: Biographer Edmund White on the wild-child poet rebel, Rimbaud.

You can join the conversation. Can you quote "The Drunken Boat"? The lines from Burroughs to Kerouac to Patti Smith and Jim Morrison that bow to Rimbaud?Guest:

Joining us from New York is Edmund White, novelist, critic, and biographer. He wrote "A Boy's Own Story," lived for years in Paris, and won a National Book Critics Circle Award in 1993 for his biography of Jean Genet. His latest novel is "Hotel de Dream: A New York Novel." His new biography is "Rimbaud: the Double Life of a Rebel." 

This program aired on December 15, 2008.


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