In 2016, Bob Dylan received the Nobel Prize in Literature "For having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition". This collection of essays by leading poets and critics examines Dylan's poetic genius, as well as his astounding cultural and musical influence In "Ballad of a Thin Man" in 1966, Dylan launched a withering attack on the myopic critic of culture: 'Something is happening here/ And you don't know what it is,/ Do you, Mister Jones?' Yet Dylan has been a subject of consuming interest to many of the most significant poets and critics over the last twenty years. It has even been argued that he is the finest living user of the English language - true to his genius through all his changes of stance, a Romantic, constantly exploring the state of his soul as he dons the cloak of lover, clown, cowboy, priest, bleak prophet of doom. In this collection, poets and professors explore different aspects of Dylan's work, writing about his impact on their own intellectual and artistic lives.
Contributors include Simon Armitage, Christopher Butler, Bryan Cheyette, Patrick Crotty, Aidan Day, Mark Ford, Lavinia Greenlaw, Hugh Haughton, Daniel Karlin, Paul Muldoon, Nicholas Roe, Pam Thurschwell and Susan Wheeler. Serious Dylan criticism is rare and these fascinating, specially commissioned essays are rigorous and challenging, at once a celebration and a questioning of a powerful talent, the genius Leonard Cohen called "The Picasso of song".
Neil Corcoran is Professor of English at the University of St Andrews, and author of works on Seamus Heaney and modern English and Irish literature.