to all the haters, or the uninitiated, or those who never really listened to mr. zimmerman’s songs with the attention they deserve. and, especially to ms. anna north, whoever she may be, who sparked a minor controversy by penning a poor op-ed piece in the new york times captioned “why bob dylan shouldn’t have gotten a nobel”, and then proceeded to list names de jour who should have been honored instead of dylan– names who will never stand the test of time, and, are only relevant for their political stance, personal histories, or some other gimmick. which, unfortunately, sums up the fashionable literature of 2016. ms. north was moronic enough to write:

“The committee probably did not mean to slight fiction or poetry with its choice. By honoring a musical icon, the committee members may have wanted to bring new cultural currency to the prize and make it feel relevant to a younger generation.”

really? awarding the nobel literature prize to dylan, who is over 70, will “make it feel relevant to a younger generation”? if bieber, with his mesmerizing poetic lyrics was awarded the nobel, yes, maybe she would have had a point (also, such a travesty would have meant, explicitly, “human evolution is complete. now let’s all hold hands together and jump from the grand canyon like lemmings”). come on ms. north, get back to 2016, from wherever la-la land you’re at.

dylan always saw himself as a poet. he even got his name from dylan thomas, arguably the most important welsh poet. his poetry started symbolic (rimbaud, verlaine) with a touch of the beats (ginsberg was a regular companion for the longest time), and, slowly evolved into his own brand of mayhem.

and, his poetry, aka song lyrics, are analyzed and studied like poetry. don’t take my word for it– ask any grad english lit student or look at modern poetry anthologies.

and, his poetry transcended generations and decades, and, always caught the zeitgeist. his poetry not only moves, but also revolts. he is not afraid to take chances and shed his own skin, change his style, world view, philosophy, and everything in between. i can’t say that for any modern poet today– most just preach to the choir of critiques, and, are only relevant for their political stance, personal histories, or some other gimmick..

yeah, he is known foremost as a musician– but, if dylan was only a musician, and not a poet, he wouldn’t be dylan. he would have been yet another musician. i know tons of people who can’t stand his voice but listen to him for hours and hours because of his poetry.

dylan is not a singer/ songwriter (a term i despise)- he is a troubadour (and also a raconteur, but that’s another essay for another time). a troubadour is a singing poet. writes poetry, and sings it. with its roots from andalusian arabs, in its latest reincarnation, the style actually goes back to the ancient greeks. it is a form of poetry.

with dylan, i always think music is actually incidental to the poetry. music is a medium to relay and sugarcoat the poetry. when the poetry changes, the music evolves with it– from simple folk to rock to experimental. in the true troubadour way. just like leonard cohen (who i believe writes better poetry, but was not as influential and diverse as dylan- attributes the swedish academy goes gaga over), or like tom waits.

very few still read poetry. since the late 19th century, poetry lost its allure, relevance and resonation with the masses. but, troubadours like dylan, cohen and waits sugarcoat poetry with music and enrich the masses. even that, by itself, in my opinion justifies the nobel prize for literature.

and, coming back to you ms. north, whoever you may be– if the younger generation would really listen to dylan, hell, it would probably be the only true poetry they will encounter in their lives, other than what was shoved down their throats in high school. face it, no one really reads poetry anymore.

at any rate, before complaining, one should pay attention to the man’s poetry. my favorite dylan album of the last few decades is “time out of mind”. take a listen to “not dark yet”, linked below. but, really, really listen to it– the word plays, the allegories, the visualization, the mood and the atmosphere— you will see a poet at the top of his game. and then, if you have the time, compare it with keats’ “ode to a nightingale” (which it is often compared to). then come up with your own verdict whether or not the man is a poet…