Canadian Writers and Musicians Celebrate Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize for Literature

By Rose, Lauren La | The Canadian Press, October 13, 2016 | Go to article overview

Canadian Writers and Musicians Celebrate Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize for Literature


Rose, Lauren La, The Canadian Press


Canadian artists cheer Dylan's Nobel win

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Several Canadian writers and musicians are praising Bob Dylan's selection as the Nobel Prize winner for literature, but the pick is also rankling observers who question the categorization of lyricists alongside authors and poets.

The legendary singer-songwriter became the first musician to receive the award. Dylan is the first American to win the Nobel literary honour since Toni Morrison in 1993.

"Bob Dylan is one of the greatest poets of all time," said award-winning, Montreal-based author Kathleen Winter, citing Dylan's 1963 track "Lay Down Your Weary Tune" among her favourites.

"If we look at his lyrics and we look at the time span, and the social importance and the artistry, there's no question of that in my mind. And I think if people are going to get their knickers in a knot over the fact that he's also a musician I think it's a bit small-minded."

Legendary Canadian singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie said she spent some time with Dylan a few years ago backstage at a blues festival in Australia where they "had some laughs."

In a statement emailed to The Canadian Press, Sainte-Marie praised his selection for the Nobel honour, saying the 75-year-old Dylan "should have received that award when he was 25."

"Both the content and diversity of his music have always been astounding," Sainte-Marie said.

"He's maintained a real long career, which isn't easy. And he's still out there playing live all over the world. 'Masters of War,' 'With God on Our Side,' 'Blowin' in the Wind,' and the personal attitude he carried represented freedom, creativity and individuality to a lot of people."

Toronto poet Damian Rogers said her initial education in contemporary poetry was to read lyrics by the likes of Dylan and Canadian icon Leonard Cohen.

"For me, I think it's embedded so early in my mind that poetry is an art that is very flexible and can be sung or spoken or read. All of these are completely legitimate forms of the art."

Following Thursday's announcement Sara Danius, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, said Dylan "writes poetry for the ear" and that his works are "perfectly fine" to be read as poetry. But in the view of acclaimed Canadian author Marina Endicott, song lyrics don't usually spring to mind when it comes to literature.

"His poetry particularly was strung together with music and indivisible from his music," Endicott said from Edmonton.

She pointed to Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie and rock group R.E.M as prime examples of musical poets but reinforced the importance of having a separate distinction for songwriters.

"I think there should be a Nobel Prize for music. Give songwriting a prize. That would be wonderful."

Dallas Green said he fell in love with Dylan as a writer after reading the American icon's memoir "Chronicles: Volume One."

"Like a lot of people, when I heard (his music) I couldn't get past the voice," said the City and Colour songwriter. …

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