Friday, 11 November 2016

Writing - Leonard Cohen a legend

I first came across Leonard Cohen in 1968 at a folk club where one of the acts covered Suzanne. I was so taken by the haunting nature of his words and the imagery that I went out and bought the album that included that track.

Image result for leonard cohen
Leonard Cohen (1934 - 2016)

Leonard Norman CohenCC GOQ (21 September 1934 – 7 November 2016) was a Canadian singer, songwriter, poet and novelist. His work explored religion, politics, isolation, sexuality, and personal relationships. Cohen was inducted into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation's highest civilian honour. In 2011, Cohen received one of the Prince of Asturias Awards for literature and the ninth Glenn Gould Prize.

The Academy of American Poets has commented more broadly on Cohen's overall career in the arts, including his work as a poet, novelist, and songwriter, stating that "Cohen's successful blending of poetry, fiction, and music is made most clear in Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs, published in 1993, which gathered more than 200 of Cohen's poems … several novel excerpts, and almost 60 song lyrics... while it may seem to some that Leonard Cohen departed from the literary in pursuit of the musical, his fans continue to embrace him as a Renaissance man who straddles the elusive artistic borderlines.

So Cohen was prolific in a number of literary fields. He wasn't everyone's cup of tea and I have had people say to me that what he produced was weird but in fact his words need to be studied. I am not personally familiar with his novels or poetry so I decided to do some research.

When this American woman from "Let Us Compare Mythologies"When this American woman,
whose thighs are bound in casual red cloth,
comes thundering past my sitting place
like a forest-burning Mongol tribe,
the city is ravished
and brittle buildings of a hundred years
splash into the street;
and my eyes are burnt
for the embroidered Chinese girls,
already old,
and so small between the thin pines
on these enormous landscapes,
that if you turn your head
they are lost for hours.

I chose this poem because of the way he used imagery and simile to achieve the view he needed to convey to his readers. Many of his songs are similar in their obscure nature. My favourite still is Suzanne although Sisters of Mercy saw me through the dying of my mother.

Sisters of Mercy
Leonard Cohen
Oh, the sisters of mercy, they are not departed or gone
They were waiting for me when I thought that I just can't go on
And they brought me their comfort and later they brought me this song
Oh, I hope you run into them, you who've been travelling so long
Yes, you who must leave everything that you cannot control
It begins with your family, but soon it comes around to your soul
Well, I've been where you're hanging, I think I can see how you're pinned
When you're not feeling holy, your loneliness says that you've sinned
Well, they lay down beside me, I made my confession to them
They touched both my eyes and I touched the dew on their hem
If your life is a leaf that the seasons tear off and condemn
They will bind you with love that's as graceful and green as a stem.

When I left they were sleeping, I hope you run into them soon,
Don't turn on the lights you can read their address by the moon
And you won't make me jealous if I hear that they sweetened your night,
We weren't lovers like that and besides it would still be alright.
We weren't lovers like that and besides it would still be alright.

RIP Leonard Cohen

Where can the books be bought?

In each case search under David L Atkinson, don't forget the 'L', and search through the available options to see all 11 novels.

Or click on the links below.

The Kindle copy available from will upload to devices supporting the Kindle App as well as Kindle devices so you can get this an all of my books on your smartphone.

God Bless