Rock poet Bob Dylan wins Nobel Literature Prize


Stockholm—US music legend Bob Dylan, whose poetic lyrics have influenced generations of fans, won the Nobel Literature Prize on Thursday, the first songwriter to win the award in a decision that stunned prize watchers.
The 75-year-old was honoured “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”, the Swedish Academy said.
The choice was met by gasps and a long round of spontaneous applause from journalists attending the prize announcement. The folk rock singer had been mentioned in Nobel speculation over the years, but was never seen as a serious contender.
The Academy’s permanent secretary Sara Danius said Dylan’s songs were “poetry for the ears”, but acknowledged that some might find Dylan a “strange” choice.
“But if you think back to Homer and Sappho, you realise that was also aural poetry. It was meant to be performed, together with instruments. But we still read them, 2,500-some years later… And in much the same way you can read Bob Dylan too. And you realise that he is great at rhyming, great at putting together refrains, and great at poetic images,” she told AFP.
Embodying both “the intellectual and popular tradition”, he has been influenced by the Delta blues, folk music from the Appalachians and French surrealists like Arthur Rimbaud, she said.
“Dylan has the status of an icon. His influence on contemporary music is profound,” the Academy wrote of the famously private singer.
Indian-born British author Salman Rushdie, often tipped as a possible Nobel winner himself, hailed Dylan as a “great choice”.
“From Orpheus to Faiz, song and poetry have been closely linked. Dylan is the brilliant inheritor of the bardic tradition,” he tweeted.
The Nobel is the latest accolade for a singer who has come a long way from his humble beginnings as Robert Allen Zimmerman, born in 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota, who taught himself to play the harmonica, guitar and piano.—APP