START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
1,089,850 people care about Education

Should Bob Dylan Have Won the Nobel Prize For Literature?

Should Bob Dylan Have Won the Nobel Prize For Literature?
  • 1 of 2


80-year-old Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer has won the 104th Nobel Prize for literature. I first read some of Tranströmer’s poetry (in translation) when I was in high school and was much drawn to his spare, haiku-ish verse, with its use of nature imagery and evocation of a landscape far different from the California I called home. It is the kind of writing that makes you look at the world from a different perspective after you read it:

“Hear the swish of rain. / To reach right into it / I whisper a secret.”

Tranströmer has written 15 collections of poems starting with his debut collection, 17 Poems, when he was only 23 years old. His poems have been translated into English and some 60 other languages; he is described as a “non-English-language poet who has been fully accepted into British and US poetry in his own lifetime.”

Tranströmer was born in 1931 and has lived in Stockholm for most of his life. After studying literature, history, religion and psychology at Stockholm University, he worked as a psychologist at a youth correctional facility. He suffered a stroke in 1990 that left him mostly unable to speak, but he has still been writing.

As Neil Astley, editor of Bloodaxe Books, which most recently published Tranströmer’s New Collected Poems, writes:

His early work was rooted in the landscape of the island where he spent his summers in childhood, drawing on the tradition of Swedish nature poetry.

His later work is more personal, open end relaxed, reflecting his broad interests: travel, music, painting, archaeology and natural sciences.

He has become known as a “buzzard poet”, a term coined by a fellow-poet Lasse Söderberg to express how he views the world from a height, in a mystic dimension, while bringing every detail of the natural world into sharp focus. His poems are often explorations of the borderland between sleep and waking, between the conscious and unconscious states.

While Tranströmer has long been a contender for the prestigious prize, he was not the popular favorite. The Swedish Academy, which administers the prize, admitted that the choice of a Swede could be controversial, even though it has not happened in almost 40 years, when Eyvind Johnson and Harry Martinson shared the prize in 1974. European writers have won the prize eight times in the past decade and there had been speculation that Syrian poet Adonis might win the prize, in recognition of the uprisings earlier this year throughout the Middle East. Japanese writer Haruki Murakami was another oft-mentioned name.

There was also speculation that Bob Dylan could win the prize, according to the British betting firm Ladbrokes. The odds given to the Hibbing, Minnesota-born singer were 5/1, while Tranströmer’s were 10/1.

  • 1 of 2

Read more: , , , , , , , ,

Photo of Dylan performing in Stockholm via Wikimedia Commons

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it


+ add your own
2:00AM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

Should Bob Dylan Have Won the Nobel Prize For Literature? YES!!!!!

10:03PM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

Dylan's work is awesome!
However, a lesser and even silly Dylan lyric but apropos to this debate, "I'm a poet, I know it. Hope I don't blow it."

9:48AM PDT on Oct 19, 2011


7:08AM PDT on Oct 13, 2011

Song lyrics are literature. Some of Bob Dylan's lyrics are poetry. Bottom line: BOB DYLAN WON A NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE. Marilyn - I'd like to see your spreadsheet regerding Dylan's stone(d) followers. Brian - LOL!

6:43PM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

NO !

5:55PM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

I think it's your command of the English language that is the joke.

5:42PM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

What does that mean, James c..'there a joke'? Where??

2:57PM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

Ever since Obama was given one there a joke so its kind of an insult to win one now

5:25AM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

Thanks for the article.

6:55PM PDT on Oct 9, 2011

I never liked D. much but still he did sing poetry, even if I didn't care for it.

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

Care2 - Be Extraordinary - Start a Care2 Petition
ads keep care2 free

Recent Comments from Causes

Seeing as the USA is founded on the idea of first displacing the native population of stolen land &…

Best buds making a joyful noise.

meet our writers

Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches and writes about ancient Greek and Latin and is Online Advocacy and Marketing... more
ads keep care2 free

Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!