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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 April 2005, 17:14 GMT 18:14 UK
Bid to nominate Cohen for Nobel
By Rachel Rawlins
BBC Arts Correspondent

Leonard Cohen
Fans admire the poetry of Leonard Cohen's songs
A veteran Canadian journalist has launched a campaign to nominate the singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Canadian journalist Paul Kennedy, who has compared Cohen to the classical poet Homer, says he deserves the award for his lyrics' wry self-irony.

The broadcaster has convened a public forum to nominate Cohen for the honour.

In many other language cultures, there is no question that song lyrics have literary merit.

Ridicule

However, the idea of giving a pop star like Cohen a Nobel prize for literature is still seen as unusual in the English-speaking world.

There are singer-songwriters whose words have been studied and deemed worthy of the label "literature", such as Bob Dylan and John Lennon.

But a recent symposium on the work of British songwriter Morrissey was greeted with ridicule in some sections of the British press.

For many cultures the words of a songwriter are treated with the same degree of seriousness and scrutiny as those of other poets and writers.

In Russia, a long bardic tradition of poet songwriters has continued through to modern rock music and songwriters routinely win poetry prizes.

Elitism

Kennedy, who is leading the Cohen nomination campaign, points out that Greek poet Homer was also a singer.

The lack of regard in the English-speaking world for its popular lyricists could be a form of intellectual elitism, viewing anything popular as being without merit.

Or it could be that English lyrics just haven't been that good, at least up to now.

One thing is certain - the secretive Nobel selection process is not known for being swayed by campaigns.


SEE ALSO:
Leonard Cohen's downbeat success
16 Jul 04 |  Entertainment


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