Please help! We need a subject to debate that has nothing to do with Donald Trump. Just in the nick of time, the folks at the Swedish Academy stepped to the plate and decided to give this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature to Bob Dylan?
Some immediately asked, “What were they thinking .. or maybe smoking ?” He’s a legendary singer and songwriter, and that has never happened before. Purists of the written word says it’s not appropriate, either because Dylan has never written the great American novel, whatever that might be, or because the poetry that he writes and then puts music to is simply not ‘worthy’ of such a distinguished honour.
Clearly in the digital age, traditional boundaries and pigeon holes are less important. Canadian academics who are critical of Dylan being chosen appear to have short memories. Just three years ago the prize was given to Canada’s Alice Munro for her marvelous short stories.
Since 1901, the literature prize has been awarded 109 times and the range of recipients is quite broad indeed. It even includes a practicing politician. Winston Churchill was still Prime Minister of the United Kingdom when he took home the gold in 1953, a year before they gave it to Ernest Hemingway. No, it has never gone to a songwriter before, but why should they be excluded? For the first time this year, Winnipeg’s Millennium Library named a songwriting couple, Christine Fellows and John K. Samson as writers in residence.
75 year old Bob Dylan is almost a Canadian. He was born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth in June of 1941, and he was raised in nearby Hibbing, Minnesota, not far from the border with Manitoba. He took up the guitar at an early age, and took the name Dylan as something of an homage to Dylan Thomas.
All I want to know is, if Bob can win a Nobel Prize, what about Leonard Cohen?
I’m Roger Currie
Photo by Francisco Antunes