Bob Dylan’s a poet – and now we know it
Friday 14 October 2016 18.28 BST
At long last something to celebrate (Bob Dylan wins Nobel prize in literature, 14 October). After all the doom and gloom about Brexit and the vacuous rantings of Donald Trump, Dylan’s Nobel prize restores one’s faith in life. What makes Dylan worthy of such an honour is that, like all great literature, lovely musical words resonate with an honesty and intelligence that give us a unique insight into the human condition. As the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, Sara Danius, said: “We hoped the news would be received with joy.” And so it should.
• It is only natural that the press would focus on Dylan’s work from the 1960s. However, as the Nobel judges have tacitly acknowledged, the man has consistently written lyrics of great power and beauty throughout his career. So let us celebrate the groundbreaking work of his early career, while acknowledging the strength, originality and freshness of his output since the mid-70s.
Ilkley, West Yorkshire
• Bob Dylan might reasonably have won the Nobel prize in literature a good deal earlier. His chronicling of early-60s America is unsurpassed, influenced of course by his mentor, the Trotskyist folk singer Dave Van Ronk. It must be said, however, that songs like Only A Pawn in Their Game – a sharp analysis of racism – is as relevant in the era of Trump as it was 50-odd years ago.
• “Freedom just around the corner for you. / But with the truth so far off, what good will it do?” Jokerman, Bob Dylan.
Gargrave, North Yorkshire
If nothing else, Bob Dylan’s Nobel prize will provide rich pickings for Pseuds Corner. I was particularly struck by Richard Williams’ line: “When you say Dylan’s lyrics to yourself, as we all do in times of need …”
• Bob Dylan is a songwriter, no more a poet than Shakespeare was a novelist. It’s good to see songwriting being recognised as a literary art form, potentially equal to forms such as novel writing, playwriting or poetry. The committee seems to have gone for the famous name, though.