The Rose That Grew from Concrete by Tupac Shakur

SHAKUR,TUPAC & VARIOUS ARTISTS - The Rose That Grew From Concrete -  Amazon.com Music

Released three years after Tupac’s murder in 1996, The Rose That Grew from Concrete is his writings from the time he was nineteen to just a few months before his passing. The poems are simple and concise, written in rhyme and Tupac’s loving shorthand.

Again, I tend to shy away from celebrity poetry and posthumous collections/albums- both of those labels usually hint at money grabs. However, I decided to make an exception for Tupac- and I’m very glad I did.

Tupac is an almost mythical character in the American psyche. He was a pioneer of hip-hop, of rap, of social justice in a way that is often downplayed. He knew it too- his writings hint that he always knew he was destined for great things. Still, these poems serve to humanize Tupac in a way that has never been presented before. Although the poems are a little clunky at times, they speak of a person– of a human being who fell in love, fell out of it, wanted better for himself, had hopes, had dreams. The poems being presented in his handwriting, as written, only adds to this. They prove that, at the end of the day, Tupac was just as human as the rest of us- just as pained and angry and lovelorn and real as anyone else. And this is the true essence of this book- far beyond the words on the page.

-Vaidehi B.

Bob Dylan Receives Nobel Prize for Literature

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Bob Dylan is an American songwriter and singer who has sold over a hundred million records with influences from civil rights to philosophy. Now, he has once again been recognized for his five decades of work. In December 2016, the Nobel Committee awarded him with a Nobel Prize for Literature, making him one of the most controversial Nobel Laureates. The public was divided over whether a songwriter was eligible for a literary award.

The committee explained that Bob Dylan was selected for “creat[ing] new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” but many critics and novelists denounced the supposed cheapening of the Nobel Prize. Dylan further agitated the public by maintaining silence for two weeks after the announcement while the committee grew increasingly agitated. Finally, he accepted the prize but stated that he was unable to attend the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden. Instead, he sent a speech that was read aloud by Azita Raji, an American ambassador.

In it, Dylan expressed his humble thanks and the honor to be among the literary greats. He addresses the debate of lyrics and literature by comparing his situation to that of William Shakespeare. What was going through Shakespeare’s mind while writing Hamlet? Perhaps: “ ‘Are there enough good seats for my patrons?’ ‘Where am I going to get a human skull?’” Bob Dylan states, “The farthest thing from Shakespeare’s mind was the question ‘Is this literature?’… Not once have I ever had the time to ask myself, ‘Are my songs literature?’”

Professor and Nobel Committee member Horace Engdahl asked in his speech, “What matter the rank of a work when its beauty is of the highest rank?” …That is the straight answer to the question of how Bob Dylan belongs in literature: as the beauty of his songs is of the highest rank.” Engdahl continued on, proclaiming Bob Dylan “a singer worthy of a place beside the Greeks’ ἀοιδόι, beside Ovid, beside the Romantic visionaries, beside the kings and queens of the Blues, beside the forgotten masters of brilliant standards.”

Bob Dylan is truly a step forward for the Nobel Prize for Literature, and his works will have a lasting influence on music culture.

The works of Bob Dylan are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They are also available for download through our new Hoopla service

Westwood Vibrato by Youn In Wan and Kim Sun Hee

There is a story behind every song as each note relays an untold emotion or memory. Music can be understood universally as a language without words, but the storyteller is often overlooked.

Cornelia Bobo Warsha is a genius instrument repairwoman living in South Africa. Her studio, “Westwood Vibrato,” can restore the sound of any musical instrument. For every instrument she repairs, Cornelia has a special request. She asks to hear the story of the one who plays the instrument. She calls it a hobby, but in a way it is healing for the one telling it. The readers are taken along with Cornelia as she immerse herself into the story.

Westwood Vibrato is filled with stories both happy and sad. Stories of broken or lost people connected to memories by the sound of music. This series digs deep into bonds between people and it is other people who make the biggest impact on other people’s lives. Cordelia is especially strong character because despite of her permanent disability she always looks toward the brighter side life and how she can make other people’s lives better. It is written in arcs with short comical interludes that build the story. Each of the arcs focus on a specific type of relationship. There is a wide ranged covered but all are relationships that could happen in everyday life. It is a heartwarming series. I would recommend this to those looking for a story that digs deep into both good and bad emotions.

I cannot say this is true for you so discover it for yourself and tell me what you think.

-Sarah J., 11th Grade

Westwood Vibrato is licensed by Line Webtoon and is free to read online.