Literary Hub

The Time Lou Reed Quit Music to Become a Poet

Andrew Cifranic Lou Reed

On March 10th, 1971, Lou Reed read at the At the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery and announced to the audience that he would no longer play music; he was now a poet. He performed the following poem that night.

This is because I always wished somebody made black lipstick and then I saw a  friend of mine that wore it and I said, “Where’d you get it?” and they said, “Oh man, everybody’s wearing it.” I said, “I thought I came up with something new.” They said, “No, man.”


(If lipstick were black
you’d wear it
If love were straight
you’d curl it
If life were wet
you’d burn it.
If death were free
you’d earn it
If you were death
I’d hiss you
If you were life
I’d catch you
If you were here
I’d kiss you
But since you’re not
I’ll miss you)


do angels need haircuts lou reed poetry

“Lipstick” from Do Angels Need Haircuts? published by Anthology Editions, Copyright 2018 Canal Street Communications 

Related Interests

More from Literary Hub

Literary Hub7 min read
Why I Can’t Stop Attempting Impossible Reading Projects
A couple of months ago, I texted a friend of mine and told him I was considering reading every one of Shakespeare’s plays over the summer—just ploughing through them, one after the other, like seasons of Game of Thrones or a freezer full of thin mint
Literary Hub6 min read
Identity, Desire, Sex: On Breaking Taboo, in Memoir and in Fiction
Kamin Mohammadi first met Hanan Al Shaykh at the Jaipur Literary Festival in 2012. “I think on the first morning,” Kamin says, “I remember I ran up to you and wanted to kneel at your feet, I was so excited. But you surprised me so much by saying—‘Ah
Literary Hub6 min read
Series, Sagas, Cycles… How About We Call Them “River Novels”?
The attention-spans of readers, we are told, have shrunk, if not disappeared altogether. The chronically distracted just can’t be expected to sit through a novel, much less a novel that begets still more novels. And yet, look around your favorite boo