World Exclusive: The Early Poems That Set Bob Dylan On the Road to a Nobel Prize In Literature
Courtesy of Dag Braathen

Hot Press has been given first access to the text of a collection of Poems Without Titles, written by songwriting genius Bob Dylan at the age of 18, shortly after he left high school. Irish fans of the man from Minnesota will be glad to know that Ireland’s greatest novelist James Joyce gets a namecheck in a collection where Beat Poetry meets Classical Epigram… In September 1959, Robert Zimmerman, who had been graduated from Hibbing High School that June, traveled south about 190 miles to Minneapolis to begin classes at the University of Minnesota. He took a few classes and halfheartedly pledged a fraternity before leaving university the following year. His primary education came in 1959 and 1960 in the funky, artsy neighborhood called Dinkytown, near the university. Zimmerman had had a band since high school, when he and a group of friends performed as the Golden Chords. Now he preferred to take a stage alone, with his acoustic guitar and a harmonica. He participated in the local folk and traditional sessions in coffeehouses and bars. One evening, before an appearance at the 10 O’Clock Scholar on 5th Street at 14th Avenue, Zimmerman announced his name as “ Bob Dylan .” Soaking up ancient ballads from the islands and highlands in the company of new friends like Minneapolis musicians John Koerner, Tony Glover, and Dave Ray, and reading voraciously in literature and American history, Dylan was also beginning to write his own material. His leading influences were the Beat poets currently in the vanguard of the avant-garde: Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and – though he’s best known for his prose – Jack Kerouac. Together with the Beats, Dylan was also getting to know their forebears, like W.B. Yeats , Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe, and classical poets […]

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