Bob Dylan Approximately: Summer 2019 Course

by Mark Chmiel

“That’s all we did in those days. Writing in the back seat of cars and writing songs on street corners or on porch swings, seeking out the explosive areas of life.”
—Bob Dylan, 1977

“I wrote ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ in 10 minutes, just put the words to an old spiritual.”
—Bob Dylan, 2004

“Elusive, oblique, mercurial, and always in motion, he has resisted in both his life and his work being categorized, encapsulated, finalized, conventionalized, canonized, and deified.”
—Jonathan Cott, Bob Dylan: The Essential Interviews

This summer I invite you to join me in exploring the works and worlds of Bob Dylan, 2016 Nobel Laureate in Literature. One critic said that Dylan “brought the linguistic beauty of Shakespeare, Byron, and Dylan Thomas, and the expansiveness and beat experimentation of Ginsberg, Kerouac, and Ferlinghetti, to the folk poetry of Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams.” His influence has been planetary. (One of my favorite Dylan covers is the Magokoro Brothers’ “My Back Pages,” featured in the film, Masked and Anonymous.)

In our time together we will be listening, reading, listing, sharing, interviewing, memorizing, researching, and writing, as we sample a tiny fraction of of Dylan’s work over almost sixty years. Themes we may explore include dreams, aggression, lineage, social injustice, camaraderie, spirituality, impermanence, performance, masks, multitudes, mystery, writing, influence, heartbreak.

We will meet on eight Monday nights, starting June 24 and going until August 12. We will gather at 6:30 p.m., and wrap up by 8:15.

We gather together in the lovely home of Marty and Jerry King at 830 Demun (third floor) in Clayton (63105).

You’ll need the following—
A device with which you can listen to music
A notebook of some kind for writing
A book of your choosing by or about Bob Dylan. I recommend his Chronicles, v. 1 or Cott’s collection of interviews. Pick something you’d enjoy dipping in and out of, and sharing your reflections throughout the course.

His lyrics are available online.

Tuition: $175, payable to me by check or Paypal. Online: $125, if anyone is outside of Saint Louis, and wants to connect with this [somehow], email or message me.

If interested in joining us, let me know by June 17 to markjchmiel@gmail.com.

“Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight
Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
An’ for each an’ ev’ry underdog soldier in the night
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing”

Mark

Literature has become, for me and many others, a crucial way to fill ourselves with the blessing of more life.
–Harold Bloom, Possessed by Memory (2019)