Entertainment & Arts

Herbie Hancock appointed Harvard professor of poetry

Herbie Hancock Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Herbie Hancock said he wouldn't try to be an expert in his lectures

US musician Herbie Hancock has been appointed the 2014 Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University.

The 73-year-old Oscar-winning composer will deliver six lectures in his role on a series of topics from next month.

Hancock told BBC Radio 5 live he would "be mainly talking about my own experience and give them some stories".

The honorary post was introduced in 1925 and has been held by arts luminaries including writer TS Eliot and composer Leonard Bernstein.

Hancock, who has won 14 Grammy awards during his career, said that it was "pretty daunting" to follow in the footsteps of Bernstein.

His series of talks will include The Wisdom of Miles Davis, in reference to the legendary jazz musician, with whom Hancock played, during the 1960s.

"The reason that I was chosen for this position was only partially because of music," Hancock told 5 live's Up All Night host Dotun.

"They also realised that I'm a goodwill ambassador to Unesco, which is partly to do with cultural diplomacy which I'm addressing in one of my lectures.

"I've been a practising Buddhist for 40 years so there's going to be a lecture on Buddhism and creativity. They were intrigued by the different ways that I presented myself," said the musician.

When asked what his personal muse is, Hancock said "life itself".

Following his stint in the Miles Davis Quintet, Hancock went on to establish a reputation for expanding jazz outside of its traditional parameters.

He later wrote music for film and TV shows, with the score for 'Round Midnight winning him an Oscar in 1986.

Last month, Hancock was honoured by the Kennedy Center for his contribution to culture.

Harvard humanities professor Homi Bhabha said that Hancock has "defined cultural innovation in each decade of the last half-century".

"His unsurpassed contribution to the history of music has revolutionised our understanding of the ways in which the arts transform our civic consciousness and our spiritual aspirations," he added.

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