Along the way... Discovering Leonard's poetry and novels

Debate on Leonard Cohen's poetry (and novels), both published and unpublished. Song lyrics may also be discussed here.
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vlcoats
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's poetry and novels

Postby vlcoats » Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:27 am

Hi 4!
Sorry I haven't responded for so long. No other excuse but that we are still reeling from our 2 moves and new jobs. In fact, we are just now in the middle of (aka: arguing about) building a shelter for our donkeys before the rains come.

Thank you for bringing up the wine on the tablecloth again. It makes me want to read that passage again, but Leonard did such a perfect job of placing me in that exact room at that exact time, that I don't even need to pull Beautiful Losers off the shelf to relive those lines. I feel like I was there!

As for whether he felt writing Beautiful Losers was a good career move... good question! It was his second and last novel. Did he only write it because, as everybody knows, there is no money in poetry? He received a grant to write his first novel. Did he feel he needed to keep writing novels to pay the bills? Novels need a beginning, a middle and an end. Did he stop there because he didn't want to keep making up stories anymore? Did he decide he didn't want to be a storyteller but a truth teller? I feel people write because they have a need to capture life so they can experience it more fully. Sometimes it takes a story, sometimes it takes something more, something that has no beginning or middle or end. Were the wisps and bits of poetry more what he was after? Was music a more lucrative avenue for that? Or being human, did he decide to stop writing novels because the criticism hurt. Or perhaps, more likely, life itself intruded and carried him somewhere else, like it does to us all?

Anyway, 4.... that was a good question.

As for The Energy of Slaves.......I am sorry for taking so long to talk about this one (if any of you are still with me), but I really don't want to rush into any comments on it. It deserves more than that. I am too distracted by moving, moving again, new jobs, settling our animals, etc, but I will say that I love it so far. I think page 14 epitomizes how I feel. In my edition, the first line is "I'd like to read..." It reminds me of all of the poems and passages of books that I read when I was barely 10 years old and discovering poetry and prose for the first time. I have tried to capture those lines and passages again, but just like Leonard, "I can't remember one line or where to look". What I love about this book is that it points out ..... but they were there!

Vickie
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vlcoats
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's poetry and novels

Postby vlcoats » Wed Sep 19, 2018 5:58 am

PS- Regarding Beautiful Losers: When I lived in Idaho, I felt that I was the only Leonard Cohen fan alive, because every time I brought him up, people were like, "Leonard who??" (True, he was already gone when I first discovered him, so I probably missed the boat) But after finding the forum, I realized that there were A LOT MORE PEOPLE that love Leonard! So I kept hoping I would run into someone. .... I have not run into anyone actively yet, but yesterday, I was wearing my Beautiful Losers t-shirt and walking through the Fred Meyer's parking lot when someone a little older than me looked at my shirt and did a double take and smiled knowingly (or so I felt). It was fleeting... but maybe here in Portland, Oregon, there are Leonard Fans nearby????
its4inthemorning
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's poetry and novels

Postby its4inthemorning » Fri Sep 21, 2018 7:50 pm

Vickie,

I met an LC fan in a used book store in Missoula, Montana about a week ago. Not Idaho, but just across the border. Was hoping to pick up one of his poetry books, but unfortunately none were in inventory at the time.

4
2010 DECEMBER 10 - CAESARS COLOSSEUM, LAS VEGAS / 2012 SEPTEMBER 28 - L'OLYMPIA, PARIS
2012 OCTOBER 3 - PALAU SANT JORDI, BARCELONA / 2012 DECEMBER 13 - K-ROCK CENTRE, KINGSTON
2013 APRIL 6 - RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL, NEW YORK CITY / 2013 JULY 9 - PIAZZA NAPOLEONE, LUCCA
2017 NOVEMBER 4-8 - MONTREAL "TOWER OF SONG" CELEBRATION - RIP, YOU GOT ME SINGING!
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vlcoats
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's poetry and novels

Postby vlcoats » Thu Sep 27, 2018 7:38 am

Well…

Thankfully, I didn’t pay too much for my copy of The Energy of Slaves, because it has suffered from travelling with me. It has been stuffed into the bottom of the tote bag I carry to work and back (along with the Oregon Driver’s Manual which I am supposed to be studying instead). It has been tossed on the coffee table and rescued from the clutches of my favorite pug, Chica, who is a slave to jealously and has a knack for destroying books I care about.

True, I have not finished The Energy of Slaves yet, but with confidence I can say that it is my favorite poetry book by our Mr. Cohen so far. It surprises me how easy that was to say! After listening to all of his albums one after the other, I don’t think I was ever able to declare any of them as my “favorite”.

I know this book has been called everything from “addicted to sex and sadness” to “clear and powerful”, not to mention “painfully honest”. I agree with it all of that. It is a mixture of beauty and disdain, all spread out on pages with razor blades to cut it apart. I love it as much for the reasons that others don’t as for the reasons that others do.

You could pick any page for an example of what I am talking about.

Page 17- “There are no traitors among women…. they do not wish us well….”
The separateness in this poem makes me sad, while at the same time I think I understand how he feels. Maybe the traitors among us are the ones that don’t care who won the war.

Page 25- “…you impressed upon my shapeless hunger…. two deep fossil shells which remained all night long and probably forever….”
It is those last three words of this poem that create the deepest impression.

Maybe my favorite so far is page 50-
“I was lost
when I met you on the road
to Larissa
the straight road between the cedars”
If this poem contained only those few words, I would love it as much. Best of all, I don’t even know why … or care.

Page 71- “I walk through the old yellow sunlight”
Sometimes it takes only a word to make all the difference.

I am not done with this book yet, and I am not sure if I ever will be.

Thanks for listening,
Vickie
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B4real
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's poetry and novels

Postby B4real » Fri Sep 28, 2018 4:56 am

Hi Vickie,
Good to see things are settling down somewhat for you in your new place of abode. It looks like I have a different TEOS edition – it might be dog-eared but no dog tooth marks which I think I can see on yours ;-) My copy is the second one on the list here at the LC Files: https://www.leonardcohenfiles.com/lcbook8g.html

Most interesting that you feel able to nominate a favourite book so readily! And you are so right with your description of this book! Those are great lines you mentioned and there are just too many other brilliantly evocative lines to include here so I’ll try to keep it to a mere few, ha!

Poem No 6 (page 14)
I’d like to read/ one of the poems/that drove me into poetry/ I can’t remember one line/ or where to look
The same thing/ happened with money/ girls and late evenings of talk
Where are the poems/ that led me away/ from everything I loved
to stand here/ naked with the thought of finding thee.

Poem No 8 (page 16)
My skin is made of stars/ that tell me what to do...

Poem No 14 (page 22) Overheard on every corner
...If I was meant to be a poet/ I would not be able to blow/ the actual flawless smokerings/ for which I am renowned/ I would be distracted/ by the possible beauty of my pen/ but I am not...

Poem No 19 (page 27)
I know there’s no such thing as hell or heaven...

Poem No 21 (page 29)
Your eyes are very strong/ they try to cripple me...

Poem No 22 (page 30)
It is not to tell you anything/ but to live forever/ that I write this...

Poem No 37 (page 46)
If I could tell you/ the laws of my longing/ you would be here/ on behalf of your greed...

Poem 61 (page 70)
...and bless your eyes/ who hurry from this page/ Put a green-eyed man/ out of his misery and rage.

Poem No 68 (page 78)
I let your mind enter me/ out of loneliness/ I was a house for your vision/ but I cannot do this twice/ Don’t walk on your shadow/ Don’t step on my broom/ I will keep your shadow clean.

Poem No 73 (page 83)
Dipped myself in a future night/ like a long-armed candle-maker...

Poem No 76 (page 86)
I have a sneer for you/ I deliver it to the lapels of my overcoat/ but it belongs to you...

Poem No 104 (page 114)
...The slow poem was everything/ It grew minutely/ like rust and wrinkle...


And remember I said that you will find some songs in this thread so here are a few comparisons in TEOS 1972 which you have already probably discovered :)

Poem No 27 (page 35)
“I left a woman waiting”...
The entire poem except the first two lines of the last verse is similar to those in the song I Left A Woman Waiting. Song 1977.

Poem No 31 (page 39)
“and is this what you wanted/ to live in a house that is haunted/ by (the ghost of) you and me”...
This last verse became part of the song Is This What You Wanted. Song 1974.

Poem No 33 (page 41)
“There’s a lot of music/ on Clinton Street”...
This line excluding "a lot of" is already on Famous Blue Raincoat. Song 1971.

Poem No 97 (page 107)
“and Suzanne took (takes you) me down/ to her place by (near) the river”...
Similar lines from the poem Suzanne Takes You Down and the song Suzanne. Poem 1956-68 Song 1967.


and lastly -
vlcoats wrote:
Thu Sep 27, 2018 7:38 am
Page 71- “I walk through the old yellow sunlight”
Sometimes it takes only a word to make all the difference.
Absolutely! ... and reading the next few lines it’s more than poignant now!
“to get to my kitchen table/ the poem about me/ lying there with the books/ in which I am listed/ among the dead and future Dylans”...
Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ me ...... The magic of art is the truth of its lies ~ me ...... Only left-handers are in their right mind!
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vlcoats
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's poetry and novels

Postby vlcoats » Sat Sep 29, 2018 7:24 am

B4,
Thank you so much for your reply. I shared it with Dave. He is more of a music guy and not so much for the poetry, but since he knows you from our other thread, it helps me give credibility to Leonard's poetry. ;-)

Poetry is so pure... you either like poetry for the poetry's sake or you don't. Lots of people need music to make it work for them. Or they only like certain types of poetry (I confess I fall to both on occasion), but sometimes there is poetry that transcends everything, and like the poem you quoted (#22), it allows the poet to live forever.... but only if it can be heard...because most people don't go looking for poetry.

Anyways..... thanks for writing Bev!

Vickie
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B4real
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's poetry and novels

Postby B4real » Sat Sep 29, 2018 10:26 am

ah Vickie, it’s always my pleasure to be of some help!
I nearly made a comment about #22 but didn't .... I had a feeling you would :)

Speaking about songs and poems, I don’t think I’ve posted these before (Dave and others might like to read them too) so here are a couple of interesting excerpts about the difference between poems and songs as explained by LC.

Seconds No 22 June/July 1993 by Steven Blush: Rebirth Of A Ladies’ Man -

QUESTION: Are the songs just poems that you’ve set to music?
LC: I’ve never thought so. People have suggested that I set my poems to music, but that was never the case.

QUESTION: What is the difference, in your mind, between the lyrics in the music and the poetry that you write?
LC: It’s a grey line, but there are some differences at the extreme. Where they meet it is difficult to say what is one and what is the other. If you look at some of the madrigals that are written on the page, it’s kind of hard to define that as poetry. On the other hand, there are some lyrics that do stand up as poems, that can survive on the page and there are some that can’t. There are some poems that simply can’t be set to music because there is a density there that requires them to be read slowly. With songs, there’s something very swift about a lyric, it travels quickly from the singer to the listener. There seems to be space between the words and the lines and the paragraphs, whereas a poem demands a kind of privacy; it’s a closed enterprise. It demands shut doors so that you can read it by yourself. There’s a different velocity with poems, and the space between the words is smaller. It just is more compact and more intense than a lyric. Lyrics must have windows, holes, air, whereas a poem doesn’t.

PBS Newshour June 28th 2006 by Jeffrey Brown: The Rhythm of Poetry -

QUESTION: What's the difference for you between writing a poem and a song?
LC: A poem has a certain; a different time. For instance, a poem is a very private experience, and it doesn't have a driving tempo. In other words, you know you can go back and forward; you can comeback; you can linger. You know, it's a completely different time reference.
Whereas a song, you know, you've got a tempo. You know, you’ve got something that is moving swiftly. You can't stop it, you know? And it's designed to move swiftly from, you know, mouth to mouth, heart to heart, where a poem really speaks to something that has no time and that is, it's a completely different perception.

QUESTION: It's interesting, because poetry; often we hear poetry is about music, in a sense, as well. Poetry makes its own music, sometimes it's said.
LC: Oh, I'm not saying it's not musical; it's just a different tempo. And it's a tempo that migrates, depending on what the mood of the reader is.

QUESTION: I noticed there are some poems in this book that also you've recorded as songs.
LC: That's true. Sometimes, you know, a lyric can survive on the page. You know, sometimes it can't, but sometimes it can. And I've tried to choose the ones that can survive on the page.
(last Q&A is about poems/songs in Book of Longing)

To me, it has always been LC’s words that I find drawn to first. But sometimes a melody can attract your attention and then you listen to the words. When you get a winning combo of words and song instantaneously, that’s gold! Also I do enjoy music alone with no words when the mood takes me there to listen or play my violin which I have been neglecting lately due to have-to-do things in the real world :razz:
Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ me ...... The magic of art is the truth of its lies ~ me ...... Only left-handers are in their right mind!
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's poetry and novels

Postby vlcoats » Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:09 am

B4real wrote:ah Vickie, it’s always my pleasure to be of some help! ...
B4-
I hope it is truly of pleasure like you say. I have learned so much through you and the others on this site, that I feel I am greedy sometimes. Sorry it has taken me so long to respond! I read your post the day you sent it, and shared it with Dave that same day. For some reason, for which I have no handy excuse, I didn't respond. I was like one of those people that eats up what you give them without saying thank you! I could offer the truthful excuse that we had to go back to Idaho (yet again) to get our little John Deere, but as I was told by a wise lady a long time ago, "We make time for the things that are important to us", so I know that being busy is no excuse. Anyway, I thought it was interesting in your quotes that Leonard spoke of how poetry and song lyrics are not of the same cloth and cannot be interchanged as each other. This makes total sense in my mind, because poetry (and prose) must stand alone. I have noticed though, that others have said that Leonard's poetry has always been "musical", as if they feel his "calling" is that of a musician or troubadour. To me, although he loved music and was very talented in it and needed it to express things that words cannot, his strongest calling was to the word. I understand how others can call him a priest and a rabbi.
B4real wrote:Also I do enjoy music alone with no words when the mood takes me there to listen or play my violin which I have been neglecting lately due to have-to-do things in the real world :razz:
I hope you are finding more time for your violin, but since it is already a part of you, you don't have to feel like you are neglecting it....you know it is already there for you, regardless.

So, I am trying to ignore the fact that everyone else is reading The Flame right now. But that isn't as hard as I thought it would be. Even though I have the book.... it is sitting on my table right now as a matter of fact, I don't want to read it yet as bad as I thought I would. I guess, like with his music, I feel I am not "worthy" yet, lol! So I will keep plugging away. I know it might seem that I am taking forever to read his books, but I feel I am not giving them near the time they need. When I read them the first time, I am mulling over what I read as I am trying to read the next page, which means that I am not really paying attention to the next page, so whenever I go back and read a few pages, I sometimes feel that I am reading them for the first time.

Anyway, I have finished The Energy of Slaves for now, and I just TODAY received my copy of Death of a Lady's Man! I lucked out on this one! I wanted a hardcover of course, but the only ones I could find were overpriced, until I found this one... under $10 with free shipping! It is missing its dust jacket but otherwise in good condition. I was actually expecting a paperback copy due to a typo or something, but here is a picture of it.
Death.jpg
My Death of a Lady's Man
Death.jpg (104.96 KiB) Viewed 153 times
(I was having fun with editing the photo since it didn't have a dust jacket to make it interesting, so in honor of the title, I posed it with an apple and used a cartoon type filter that made the words stand out, lol) I haven't started to read it yet, but I am not feeling as afraid as I was to hear his studio album with the similar name ;-).

Thank you for hanging in here if you are... I know the flame is burning elsewhere, lol!
Vickie
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's poetry and novels

Postby B4real » Sun Oct 14, 2018 7:22 am

Vickie, it doesn’t matter about taking your time to respond – in fact, most people just read what others write and don’t feel the need to comment and I do that too at times! Speaking of travelling, I have recently clocked up about 1,400 km in one day “due to have-to-do things in the real world”. An absolutely horrific bumpy flight back with a gravity defying high-speed bone jolting bounced landing! I truly hate flying and that most definitely confirmed it! I said to the poor lady in the seat beside me, “That’s it! I don’t think I’ll ever do this again!!” When I finally made it home, to soothe my jangled nerves I got out my violin to play and what a terrible sound – two strings needed to be replaced; A and D and I only had a spare D. Maybe my violin was trying to tell me something for neglecting it lately :razz: Ah well, at least I only have to travel 80 km by car to buy the A string, ha! Actually, plus that, I think I’ll get a full set, just in case!

Regards The Flame, you are not alone in not having read it so far. I haven’t even bought it yet. I secretly, no, I openly am trying to delay reading those pages and the significance of the fact that these are the final words of Leonard’s in official print. But you know what – my heart tells me that they are not! So I will buy The Flame soon but take my time reading it.

Your DOALM book photo is quite creative! And you couldn’t beat that price you paid for the book! It’s interesting that the value of a used book with the jacket is always considered majorly dearer than one without. It seems the actual words contained therein are not considered in such a moneyed manner. Check out for your book ISBN no. in the links below – I think yours is from Viking Press. You may have seen some of these links, but they are interesting anyway –

https://www.leonardcohenfiles.com/lcbook9g.html

https://biblio.com.au/death-of-a-ladys- ... work/44507

https://www.ebay.com/itm/DEATH-OF-A-LAD ... :rk:2:pf:0

Above is as mine below -
DOALM-fr-&-bk-covers.jpg
Now I don’t want to influence you about DOALM but I like the unusual format of letter/prose/poem reply to the poems/prose. Talk about having a conversation with yourself! And off the top of my head, I just have to mention a line which always makes me chuckle ... “disguised as a hat I will rip off your eyebrows”.... I’ll let you discover which poem it comes from :) The same poem at its beginning has the seed of a line to later germinate in Hallelujah and another three words probably unconsciously later incorporated into the main chorus of Anthem. I think you will enjoy How To Speak Poetry ....and I’m stopping for now!
Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ me ...... The magic of art is the truth of its lies ~ me ...... Only left-handers are in their right mind!

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