NEW YORK (Reuters) - Singer Bob Dylan was made an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, joining the ranks of leading writers, composers and artists in the prestigious 115-year-old group.
Henry Cobb, the president of the academy, said honorary members are people of great distinction in the creative arts.
“For more than 50 years, defying categorization in a culture beguiled by categories, Bob Dylan has probed and prodded our psyches, recording and then changing our world and our lives through poetry made manifest in song - creating relationships that we never imagined could exist between words, emotions and ideas,” the citation said.
The singer/songwriter did not attend Wednesday’s ceremony in Manhattan, where Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon gave the keynote address and cited Dylan’s lyrics, and actress Meryl Streep, another honorary member, presented an award.
But he sent his regrets in a statement.
“I feel extremely honored and very lucky to be included in this pantheon of great individual artists who comprise the Academy of Arts and Letters. I look forward to meeting all of you some time soon,” he said.
Virginia Dejani, the executive director of the academy, said Dylan’s induction was decided by a vote of the membership, which totals 250.
“He was on a ballot with other names and he won handily,” she said in an interview.
Dejani said that he was made an honorary member because the Academy failed to decide which department - art, literature or music - he would fit into. The rules of the academy limit honorary membership to 15 Americans, she added.
“It was decided that he is a very multitalented person whose work was so unusual for what he has accomplished that it defies categorization,” Dejani added.
Other honorary U.S. members include directors Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese, choreographer Paul Taylor and cellist Yo Yo Ma.
Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Eric Walsh