Dylan is one of the most quoted artists of our time, and rightfully so. Just check out these nuggets of wisdom if you need any convincing:
A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.
No one is free, even the birds are chained to the sky.
I accept chaos, I’m not sure whether it accepts me.
But there is one Dylan quote that has always niggled at me and that is, I think a poet is anyone who wouldn’t call themself a poet.
This niggles at me for many reasons… one, Dylan readily calls himself a poet, in fact has been quoted as saying he will die like one (although he also says he doesn’t like the word… prefers the term trapeze artist); the fact that the word poet is undeniably misunderstood in our society; and the fact that I struggled to come to terms with calling myself a poet for many years and am only now beginning to feel any sense of comfort with the term.
Personally, I struggled with the term because I value it… deeply. For the last decade the art of poetry has been the driving force in my life. I have high expectations of my work and only now feel that I am starting to produce the work of a poet.
So why is it that, the word poet is often uttered under one’s breath? Why has the title poet, become a thorny crown?
I would like to suggest that one of the main reasons is the lack of poetry in our national curriculum. I don’t want to harp on this, as I know I have said it before, but quality poetry is sadly missing in our schools today. I saw an example of the work that a visiting poet had done with students recently and it was in a word… uninspired. We are seriously missing the mark in schools and as a result, fewer and fewer people are being equipped with the skills to engage with poetry.
But this is just one of the reasons… I could also cite elitism as a significant reason as let’s face it, for too long prestige has been found by pleasing a small group of like minds, rather than reaching out to a wider audience.
Dylan has certainly redefined modern music through his lyrical brilliance. I just wonder what it will take (or who) to redefine poetry.
Feel free to add your suggestions (or disagree with any of mine).