Bob Dylan, the US singer known for his songs like ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ and ‘The Times They Are a-Changin’, became the first songwriter to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
He was recognized: “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”. He is the first American to win a Nobel prize for over a decade with current US President, Barack Obama responding today on Twitter, “Congratulations to one of my favourite poets, Bob Dylan, on a well-deserved Nobel.”
Permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, Sara Danius, said that Dylan had been selected for the prestigious honour as he is considered “a great poet in the English speaking tradition”. She went on to say that over his long career, “he’s been at it reinventing himself, constantly creating a new identity”.
Of Dylan’s supporters, Sir Andrew Motion, former Poet Laureate, praised his lyrics, arguing Dylan’s songs “work as poems”. Further speaking on the new Nobel Prize winner, he added: “They’re often the best words in the best order,” and “have often extremely skilful rhyming aspects to them.”
However, some writers and poets have expressed annoyance at the Academy choosing Dylan for the award with Irvine Welsh calling it “an ill conceived nostalgia award wrenched from the rancid prostates of senile, gibbering hippies.”
Whilst Welsh was one of many voicing their displeasure – Lin-Manuel Miranda took to Twitter to say: “Novelists grousing about Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize: green looks hideous on you.”
Dylan has been a long rumoured potential nominee for the Nobel Prize, though few thought this would actually come to fruition. Previous winners have included Irish poet, playwright and translator Seamus Heaney; British playwright Harold Pinter; Swedish poet and author Harry Martinson and South African writer and activist Nadine Gordimer.
Watch Bob Dylan’s “Things Have Changed” below.