Bob Dylan’s winning the Nobel Prize in Literature becomes controversial to some

Falicia Patterson
By Falicia Patterson October 28, 2016 13:02

The Nobel Committee for Literature selects a winner each year and this year’s choice – Bob Dylan – has become controversial to some.

According to, Dylan has been recognized for having “created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” He has been nominated and approved by the Nobel Committee of Literature to win the award. People allowed to submit a nominee include members of certified academies or institutions similar to that of the Swedish Academy, preceding laureates and professors who teach literature or linguistics at universities or colleges.

Dylan is the first musician to win the award, which has become a subject of debate.

One Windsor musician says she appreciates the academy’s choice this year in selecting Dylan for the award in contrast to previous laureates.

“He’s not a great singer, so it was always about his words and his songs. I think he’s a great poet,” said Secretary and Treasurer of the Windsor Federation of Musicians Lynne Bradac.” I think its about time they’ve switched from the old-time poets and people, you know, from the novelists who were writing to someone from the new era.”

Dr. Karl Jirgens, professor of English language, literature and creative writing at the University of Windsor said while Dylan’s winning of the award may be a bit strange to some, it is up to the Nobel jury.

“This year’s literary choice is a bit unusual, but one can recognize many reasons for the choice. If you look at the past 20 years or so, then it appears that the standards remain solid,” said Jirgens. “Recent winners such as Patrick Modiano, Svetlana Alexievich, Alice Munro, Mo Yan, Tomas Transtromer, Mario Vargas Llosa and Hera Muller all seem quite worthy. There will always be controversy because tastes are never universal.”

Dylan’s music influenced civil rights activists and spoke to the working class during the 1950s and 60s.

“I think he’s a great poet. He influenced everybody. He was always saying, you know, what was happening on the street. Not fantasy or something like that,” said Bradac. “It was always honest music, so I think he deserved to get it.”

Jirgens believes the Nobel Committee for Literature’s standards will not change despite the exception of Dylan becoming a literary laureate.

“I doubt Dylan’s award will dramatically change the way the Nobel jury works in the future. However, one can think of other poets or musicians such as Leonard Cohen who might be worthy. I think that the jury will return to novelists, poets and playwrights in future,” said Jirgens. “In addition, Dylan has been rather hesitant and reclusive in his response to the award, and that has raised some concerns among the Nobel group. So Dylan’s reticence might affect views held by future Nobel juries.”

According to Bob Dylan has removed mention of receiving the award from his website.

Bob Dylan performs in Kent, England in 2012. (Courtesy of

Bob Dylan performs in Kent, England in 2012. (Photo courtesy of

Falicia Patterson
By Falicia Patterson October 28, 2016 13:02

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