Let’s celebrate Bob Dylan!

Welcome to a special edition of Poetry Friday, honoring the work of Bob Dylan

The idea for this celebration came from my November 2007 post about “The Diner,” by Richard Jones. I was lamenting the inaccessibility of some poetry, and, in general, wishing that it wasn’t an art form primarily cultivated by a subculture of students, teachers, aesthetes, or other poets. In Jones’ poem, the people at the diner toss names like Baudelaire, Rilke, and Rumi around in their small talk. Poetry is second nature, essential food. Every man’s food.

Rich and famous artist/writer Kevin Slattery and I agreed that Dylan would probably hang out at this diner, since they were talking about Rimbaud and Verlaine, two of his early influences. It would be a natural stop for this lonesome traveler, who once said, “I consider myself a poet first, and a musician second. I live like a poet, and I’ll die like a poet.”

Don’t let his craggy singing voice deter you from appreciating his singular accomplishment — 600+ songs which define the last five decades of American culture, blending elements of narrative, chant, ballad, free verse, lament, epic, nonsense rhyme, folk, jazz, blues, country, et. al. It all comes down to the writing, which has earned him several nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Yes, I am a thief of thoughts
not, I pray, a stealer of souls
I have built an rebuilt
upon what is waitin
for the sand on the beaches
carves many castles
on what has been opened
before my time
a word, a tune, a story, a line
keys in the wind t unlock my mind
an t grant my closet thoughts back yard air . . .

no I must react an spit fast
with weapons of words
wrapped in tunes
that’ve rolled thru the simple years
teasin me t treat them right
t reshape them an restring them
t protect my own world
from the mouths of all those
who’d eat it . . .

(from #8 of Dylan’s 11 Outlined Epitaphs; rest is here.)

*At this very moment, the self-proclaimed Archbishop of Anarchy is in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he’ll be performing tomorrow night.


1. I’d love to hear your Dylan musings, but posts about songs or poems by anyone else are perfectly fine (we’ve got lots of seating here, and the tables are wide). Leave your link with Mr. Linky, below, with a comment.

2. Those of you posting about Dylan will automatically be entered into a drawing to win this 2-disc DVD:

This is Martin Scorsese’s 2005 documentary tracing Dylan’s early days in Greenwich Village through 1966, when he was famously booed on his world tour for going electric. There is a lot of fascinating commentary from the reclusive Dylan himself (he smiles! he’s human! he says his first two girlfriends, Gloria and Echo, brought out the poet in him! Why didn’t I know his eyes were so blue?!).

3. Check out my Wednesday post about “Like a Rolling Stone,” to find out why this is the one song I would take with me if I were banished to a desert island.

4. Big thanks to Jules of 7-Imp for this anecdote from singer Sam Phillips, whose daughter, Simone, upon hearing Dylan for the first time, asked, “Mommy, is that God singing?” When asked why she thought that, Simone answered, “Because his voice is funny, and it doesn’t make me laugh.” Oh, yeah!

Thanks for dining with us (jingle, jangle). I’ll try to round everybody up by the end of the day.

 “. . . he not busy being born is busy dying.”


Here are the sounds that are filling the diner today:

Mother Reader is full of bright lights and the big city of Las Vegas with her take on The King.

Kelly over at Big A Little a is looking forward to her favorite season with a beautiful poem by Mary Jo Salter and a Dylan favorite which perplexes her, “One More Cup of Coffee for the Road.”

John from the Book Mine Set shares the Dylan classic, “The Times They Are a Changin,'” and a very cool original poem about the northern lights.

Susan at Wizards Wireless has been sharing Pooh and friends with her son (yay, bears)!

You must check out Tiel Aisha Ansari’s original poem, “Perpetual Amazement,” at Knocking from Inside. Wow!

Over at Wild Rose Reader, Elaine is leaping into spring with two original acrostics and a bounty of poetry collections and picture books written in verse. At the Blue Rose Girls, Elaine has posted “When I am Asked,” by Lisel Mueller (one of my favorites)!

Ready for a Poetry Friday Mash-up? Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect is celebrating Pi Day, Einstein’s birthday, and a wistful Dylan masterpiece, “Every Grain of Sand.”

Only Edna St. Vincent Millay will do for Eisha at 7-Imp today — “Spring” really hits the mark. She’s also got “Song for Woody,” Dylan’s first original song.

Here’s the perfect chance to make friends with Sara Lewis Holmes, who’s sharing Dylan’s “All I Really Wanna Do,” at Read Write Believe.

At A Year of Reading, Mary Lee shares a beautiful sunrise with her original, “Daylight Savings Time.”

New to Poetry Friday, Kathy from The Brain Lair, is all about school with Tom Wayman.

writer2B is reminded of a Sunday School friend upon discovering Dylan’s comic gem,”Ugliest Girl in the World.”

Tadmack at Finding Wonderland has posted “Permanence,” by Lawrence Raab — such a gorgeous poem!

At destined to become a classic, Madame T has penned, “I went to war and all I got was this lousy license plate.” Not Dylan, but in the same spirit!

You’ll find a touching, reflective original poem about “Changing History” through telling stories at Cheryl Rainfield’s blog.

Laura Salas shares an excerpt from her article, “How Poems are Gathered and Published,” and she’s written an original poem about Dylan (love it!) as part of her weekly 15 Poems or Less feature.

Thanks to Chris at book-a-rama for a dose of Dylan’s “Mississippi.”

cloudscome at A Wrung Sponge has discovered a new Irish poet, Eavan Boland, and her favorite Dylan lyric for today is “God Knows.”

At Doing the Write Thing!, Marianne is into snowshoe hares with a poem by Nancy White Carlstrom.

Getting ready for National Poetry Month, Sylvia at Poetry for Children, has posted “Javier,” by Kathi Appelt, along with some ideas about how to celebrate during the month of April.

The queen of coffee, Karen Edmisten, has composed a shockingly clever poem called, “It Ain’t Me, Bob.” Dylan does have a way of inspiring women, to be sure!

Shelf Elf shares her love of museums and Lee Bennett Hopkins’ anthology, Behind the Museum Door, with an excerpt from “The Moccasins,” by Kristine O’Connell George.

Dive into the sea with Susan’s review of Sea Stars: Saltwater Poems, by Avis Harley and Margaret Butschler over at Chicken Spaghetti.

Christine discovered that she knew a lot more Dylan songs than she thought at The Simple and the Ordinary. She graces us with an excerpt from “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

Liz in Ink is waxing romantic today with thoughts of Bob, Joan Baez and those heartbreaking “Boots of Spanish Leather.”

For some substantial Tennyson, visit Michele at the Scholar’s Blog.

Prepare to be amazed and impressed by Kevin Slattery’s visual poem, “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” a retrospective gallery showing of all his Dylan-inspired work!

Jill at The Well-Read Child has us pondering Dylan’s “Every Grain of Sand.”

Get into the ring with Kelly at Writing and Ruminating — she offers a beautiful review of Charles R. Smith, Jr.’s new verse biography of Muhammed Ali, Twelve Rounds to Glory.

Long-time Dylan fan boreal owl shares reflections, lyrics for “Maggie’s Farm,” and an original poem inspired by Dylan, “Highway 401 Revisited,” at Words Take Flight. Awesomeness abounds.

Cozy up at Becky’s Book Reviews — she’s got 2 videos of “Mr. Tambourine Man,” and of course, all the lyrics.

You’ll find a nice review of Poems in Black and White by Kate Miller, at  What Adrienne Thinks About That.

Bill at Literate Lives features a poem from Eileen Spinelli’s collection, where i live.

Becky’s children are memorizing poems by Kipling and Lewis Carroll over at  Farm School.

Over at Mitali’s Fire Escape, you’ll find a special treat — an excerpt from her upcoming novel, Secret Keeper (January 2009), which includes some poetry by Bengal’s Nobel Laureate, Tagore.

A nice double header over at Laurel’s Kid Lit(erary) — an original poem, “Dear Bob Dylan,” and some Norman Dubie.

Miss Erin features the lovely poem,”Poppies,” from Tracie Vaughn Zimmer’s novel Reaching for Sun.

Don’t miss Dylan’s “Clean Cut Kid” over at The Reading Zone — it’s a poignant reminder of what Vietnam was all about.

Just in time for the upcoming movie release of Horton Hears a Who, here’s a funny review posted by Suzanne at Adventures in Daily Living.

Mary at Audiobooker features Poetry Speaks to Children — an anthology and CD set with poets reading their own works.

If you’re in the mood for Yeats, visit Crispus Attucks at Dominant Reality, where you’ll find “1916,” written about the Easter Uprising.

Finally, a sweet anonymous poem called “Guests,” found in grandmother’s cook book at A Little of This, A Little of That!


53 thoughts on “Let’s celebrate Bob Dylan!

  1. OK, Jama, you made me go downstairs and pull out my copy of Bob Dylan’s Lyrics 1962-1985. I also like “Like a Rolling Stone.” Also “Positively 4th Street,” “Tangled Up in Blue,” and “Most Likely You Go Your Way.” And the last 2 stanzas especially of “All Along the Watchtower.”


  2. How come?
    Here it is Bob Dylan Day….the man who’s filled me with so many pictures with his WORDS…and….I can’t think of a word to say?
    Maybe I’ll just go back to my blog and post all the pictures….


  3. Love that anecdote. I’m going to have to post and run, because I’m busy tomorrow, but I did find a Dylan lyric to share. I’ll be back to leave it with Mr. Linky. Save some leftovers at the diner for me!


  4. I’m leaving my contribution early because I won’t have a chance in the morning. It’s part of a song, so you should approve. Of course, my songwriter wasn’t as good as your songwriter, so I had to tweak my song a little. Enjoy!


  5. Poetry Friday
    Elaine M.
    Thanks for hosting the roundup this week!
    At Wild Rose Reader, I have two original acrostic poems for spring and recommendations for some spring and seasonal themed poetry books and picture books in verse.
    At Blue Rose Girls, I have a poem by Lisel Mueller entitled “When I Am Asked” in which she explains how she began writing poetry.


  6. I LOVE Bob!
    Hey, nice choice, and a great idea for a contest. I love the song you chose.
    I’ve got an Edna St. Vincent Millay poem, “Spring,” plus some lyrics from Dylan’s “Song to Woody” at 7-Imp.
    Thanks, Jama!


  7. Thanks for hosting, and for the encouragement to learn a little more about Dylan. I knew he was a major musical presence, but I had no idea how many songs he’d written! The muse truly loves him.


  8. TadMack says: 🙂
    Uh oh! I don’t think I know a Bob Dylan song. I’m fairly sure that nothing of his has been made over into four part baroque harmony (recently at least) and that’s my musical forte. Still, I think he wrote that Blowin’ in the Wind song with Peter, Paul & Mary, right?


  9. Thanks for hosting Poetry Friday. 🙂 I’m glad you said we could also post other poems. Mine is a poem I wrote about the power of writing to change history, even if only internal history.


  10. I forgot to say who I am (I wrote the writing poem.) I don’t have a Live Journal account so it posts me as anonymous.


  11. OK, Jama, you’ve convinced me. I must get over my aversion to his voice and just start reading his lyrics. I need to find a songbook, because I need to find a quiet, computerless place to read them. I LOVE the lyrics you posted.


  12. Thanks for hosting Jama. Sorry, though no Bob Dylan here 😦 Instead I have a poem from The Midnight Dance of the Snowshoe Hare by Nancy White Carlstrom. Definitely not Bob Dylan!!


  13. Cloudscome says:
    I have a new-to-me Irish poet today and my Dylan favorite of the day “God Knows”. I think I need One More Cup of Coffee For The Road too, (my favorite from college days) so I’m looking forward to cruising the blogs. Thanks for the round up!


  14. Karen Edmisten wrote:
    Jama, as always, you educate and inform and inspire. I always leave here thinking I have to *tell someone something* … “Hey, did you know ….???” 🙂
    I’m in with a very poor original attempt at stringing Dylan titles into a poem, but I had fun doing it.


  15. Bob-less
    Oh, wait. That’s George Clinton, not Bob Dylan. Oops.
    Jama, I’m in with a slightly updated re-run of a a post about a kids poetry book, “Sea Stars: Saltwater Poems.” I’m not a Dylan fan. I know. Party of one.
    Chicken Spaghetti


  16. Thanks for doing the round up this week.
    I’m in with “Blowing in the Wind” because that was the first Dylan song that came to mind.


  17. Cover songs
    While I don’t think I have an aversion to his voice (or Cohen’s or Waits, etc), I suspect that deep down I probably do as I often prefer covers of his songs (“Knockin On Heaven’s Door”, “One More Cup of Coffee”, and “All Along The Watchtower” come to mind).
    –John Mutford


  18. I’m somewhat late on parade this week (it’s been a busy day so far!) but I’m in with Alfred Tennyson rather than Dylan. Thanks for rounding up…
    Michele (Scholar’s Blog)


  19. Stephen Scobie
    I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard of Canadian poet and Dylan fanatic Stephen Scobie but he has a brilliant poem named “Idiot Wind” (after the Dylan song of the same name). It stands alone as a great poem, but if you look closer it reveals itself as an acrostic of sorts: each first word forms a couplet from Dylan’s tune. I tried looking for it online, but alas, it’s not there.


  20. Thanks for hosting. I’m not good with the themed Fridays, and I’m not much of a Dylan fan (sorry – although I do like “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Just Like a Woman”), so I’ve posted a book review of Twelve Rounds to Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali. They bear a lot in common: the same age range (born in 1942 to Dylan’s 1941); controversial figures; changed religious affiliations and birth names; protested the Vietnam War and spoke out for peace. Will that do?


  21. Thanks for hosting!
    I’m in with Bob Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man. I have a YouTube video as well of him performing the song in 1964.
    Becky (Becky’s Book Reviews)


  22. Dylan Favorite
    I love “The Times They are a Changin'” It’s been playing in my head for months now. Actually I came to appreciate Bob Dylan through Peter, Paul, and Mary who recorded several Dylan songs. (Puff the Magic Dragon is probably my all time favorite song.)


  23. Re: Dylan Favorite
    No, he didn’t write Puff. But that song led me to other PP&M tunes and then to Bob Dylan.


  24. Every Grain of Sand, Indeed
    So YOU’RE the one to blame for all these posts about Dylan I’ve been reading of late. Good job. Wonderful post. You cast the pebble that started a ton of ripples.
    Since you are your ‘devotees’ all seem to be fans of Mr. Dylan I thought I’d let everyone know about new novel, BLOOD ON THE TRACKS.
    It’s a murder-mystery. But not just any rock superstar is knocking on heaven’s door. The murdered rock legend is none other than Bob Dorian, an enigmatic, obtuse, inscrutable, well, you get the picture…
    Suspects? Tons of them. The only problem is they’re all characters in Bob’s songs.
    You can get a copy on Amazon.com or go “behind the tracks” at http://www.bloodonthetracksnovel.com to learn more about the book.
    And again, great post.


  25. Re: late, but here
    You’re very welcome. Just saw your superhero tea party video and loved it!! And that’s got to be the best user pic ever . . .


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