Written in 1966 (published in 1971), Tarantula is a collection of poems and prose that evokes the turbulence of the times in which it was written, and gives a unique insight into Dylan’s creative evolution. ‘The good samaritan coming in with the words “round & round we go” tattoed on his cheek / he tells the senator to stop insulting the lawyer.’ Tarantula captures Bob Dylan’s preoccupations at a crucial juncture in his artistic development, showcasing the antic imagination of a folk poet laureate who was able to combine the humanity and compassion of his country roots with the playful surrealism of modern art. Angry, funny and strange, the poems and prose in this collection reflect the concerns we find in Dylan’s most seminal music: a sense of protest, a verbal playfulness and spontaneity, and a belief in the artistic legitimacy of chronicling everyday life and eccentricity on the street.
Tarantula never made its publication date in Autumn 1966. To the delays added by Dylan’s constant revisions was added the greater complication of his motorcyle accident – which left him with still undisclosed injuries and kept the book from publication until 1971. In the interim, it became a cult phenomenon, with ‘bookleg’ editions photocopied from reviewer proofs circulating throughout the musical and literary demi-mondes.
HarperPerennial, 2005 (1971)