First, this from My Poetic Side:
History has been made today, as Bob Dylan has become the first songwriter to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. He is also the first American to win the award since 1993, when novelist Toni Morrison walked away with it. The permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, Sara Danius, said that Dylan won the award because he was “a great poet in the English speaking tradition”. It may seem like the rules have been somewhat bent for Dylan to win the award, but his lyrics are considered poems, and no one can deny that they are excellent works of literature. The award will be presented on December 10th, which is the anniversary of the death of Alfred Nobel, the prize founder. …
We recently conducted some research to determine where the winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature originate. If you look at the map, you will be able to get a good understanding of the countries that have had the greatest success.
No, the rules were not “bent” to give Dylan the Nobel Prize in Literature; the rules were tossed along with the basic purpose of the Nobel Prizes. Now I like Bob Dylan’s work, but c’mon, he’s a folk singer. Even an aging Carl Sandburg knew better than to accept Dylan’s claim to be a poet.
This is just the latest slam against legitimate literature. I’m still steamed over North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory’s careless appointment of a state employee who’d self-published two thin books of poems as the state’s Poet Laureate. After an outraged literary community gave him an earful, McCrory changed his mind by replacing his initial candidate with Shelby Stevenson, a poet deserving of the title.
Unfortunately, I don’t think the Nobel Committee will do an about-face and give the Literature prize to Don DeLillo, Ron Rash, or Cormac McCarthy.
Too many forces are arrayed against the simple act of reading. Click on “Read Story” on many news sites (here, for example) and you get a blaring video that snaps your attention away from the written report.
So the Nobel Prize in Literature, once a sturdy champion of writers and their readers, has turned into yet another pusher of pop culture. Yuck.