Thursday, October 13, 2016

America's Bard

Well, that was a surprise. Only yesterday I was in a discussion about who might win the Nobel Prize for Literature this year and speculating on whether it might be the first American to win the prize since Toni Morrison in 1993. My contribution to the discussion was that there was not the least chance that it would be an American. My record as a prophet is intact.

On the other hand, when you think about it, the only appropriate response seems to be "What took them so long?" After all, he has catalogued our lives and made unique poetry from our chaotic culture for more than fifty years. I can hardly even remember a time when I wasn't listening to that poetry and thinking, "Yes! He got it just right!"

Bob Dylan was and is truly the bard of my generation of Americans. He has spoken for us on so many occasions when it was hard to find our voice and has given us a rallying point for understanding and moving forward in the interesting era in which we live.

He was recognized by the Swedish Academy for "having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition." Sara Danius, the permanent secretary of the Academy, called Dylan "a great poet in the English-speaking tradition" and compared him to Homer and Sappho whose poetry was also sung. I'd be interested to hear what he has to say about that comparison!

No doubt there will be naysayers who denigrate his accomplishment and the awarding of this honor. There always are. But they will be long forgotten while his lyrics and his music live on and give expression and meaning to our complicated lives.

Well done, Bob, and well-deserved.

Bob Dylan, Nobel Laureate.

6 comments:

  1. I guess I have to be acquainted with his music now.

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  2. Yes, well, well deserved. I remember the first time I ever heard "Like a Rolling Stone" on a top 40 radio station. Just blown away. And then got blown away again when I heard the "long version". A most amazing songwriter.

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    1. He is literally the voice of our generation. It's so nice to see him getting these accolades.

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  3. Really my mind was blown when I read the news this morning. Bob must have been laughing into his coffee. I was never the songwriter he is but he was one of my main inspirations. Heck, he is even an inspiration to me when I write book reviews. That said, the ways of the Swedish Academy are beyond our ken.

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    1. They seem to be honoring alternative kinds of literature in recent years. Last year, they gave the award to an interviewer. I've often wondered about some of their selections in the past, but, when I think about it, Dylan seems like a no-brainer choice.

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