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2013 Abstracts

Bob Dylan, Poet: Bringing It All Back Home

Garrett Faylor, Dixie State University


Bob Dylan has been called just about every name in the book: voice of a generation, beatnik, icon, songwriter, protest singer, legend, even Judas. But there is one name that people cannot seem to agree upon-poet. In “I Shall Be Free No. 10,” Dylan jokingly says, I’m a poet, and I know it / Hope I don’t blow it.” Rather than take his word for it, one might suggest looking backward to discern the verity of Dylan’s claim. Wordsworth, Shelley, and T.S. Eliot all contributed greatly to the art and our understanding of poetry. Each supplied definitions for what constitutes poetry and better yet, what exactly a poet should be and do. In his Preface to Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth explains that “[the poet] is a man speaking to men.” This, and other definitions given by some of poetry’s most notorious innovators, decisively vindicates the claims of Dylan as poet. In this paper, I will argue that not only does Bob Dylan fit into almost all literary definitions of “poet,” he is the quintessential American poet: a transcendent, folk-rooted traverser and mouthpiece “for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail.”