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Debate on Leonard Cohen's poetry (and novels), both published and unpublished.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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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????
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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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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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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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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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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 3860 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 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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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's poetry and novels

Postby vlcoats » Thu Oct 25, 2018 6:49 am

B4- So good to hear from you, as always!
B4real wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 7:22 am
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!!”
Is this your way of telling me that I will not get to meet you in Hydra next June?

You said that you haven't read The Flame yet, in part because you want to delay the discovery of reading those pages. Like you, I don't think they are the final words we will hear from Leonard (will that ever happen?), but I do feel that the final words he wanted to leave as his final words are the words we got from him before he died. He was in control of them then... even if by a thread. So to me, the lyrics he left with us on You Want It Darker are his final sanctified lyrics, and the poetry he left us in The Book of Longing are his final sanctified poems.
To me, The Flame is in a grey area… it is on the cusp of his leaving. If the forward of the book had been written by him… as in something like, “Hello, this is Leonard. I was hoping to have this shit done and published by now, but since that obviously didn’t happen, I have asked Adam to publish this as my final published work”, then The Flame would also be sanctified in my mind. (Okay fine, he probably would never put it like that so please don’t anybody get offended.)

Anyways… even having said that, like the rest of you, I will be thankful for anything that sees the light of day from now on… be it words or music, or whatever. We can mine it for the gold that is surely there. So, like you B4, I will take my time in getting to it.

I loved the pictures you sent of the DOALM covers. Wouldn’t it be fun to afford every version of every book and every version of every recorded piece by him. Poor Leonard, we want to just eat him up, even still. ;-)

You said that you particularly liked the unusual format of letter/prose/poem and reply in DOALM…. I agree very much! We all have several sides, so it is like seeing all those sides of him, one on each opposing page. I am not ready to comment much yet because I haven’t really begun it… but I did read the first couplet (is that what it would be called?) I really love so many things about it. “…I climbed on Alexandra’s double bed and wept in a general way for the fate of men..” Then he asks “How had I ever thought of mastering her?” after she turned gold, but on the second page, he said “Later, just before I mastered her, she turned golden in the bathroom..” The way he put that differently didn’t make sense to me at first.

I am looking forward to this! Ripped off eyebrows and Hallelujah? Bring it on, lol!
Vickie
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's poetry and novels

Postby B4real » Sat Oct 27, 2018 5:06 am

Vickie, I did try to cure my fear of flying with the best motivation possible as you will read here ;-)
https://www.leonardcohenforum.com/viewt ... 30#p335114

....And I’m still trying, so even though I spat the dummy recently because that horrendous episode was so fresh in my mind doesn’t really mean that I won’t stop attempting to get over my anxiety about flying. One time I had almost convinced myself to fly to what I considered would be (and was) the last concert LC would play in Montreal. I was within half an hour of buying the seat ticket when Wendy mentioned at that time of the year they would have to de-ice the planes – Holy Toledo :shock: Living in the tropics, that was enough for me! My new-found bravado melted away like the ice on those wings! But who knows, forever the optimist, I could yet get to finally make it to Hydra or the next LC event!

Ah, and coincidentally, another line in that “eyebrow” poem accidentally (not purposely as the line says) happened to my violin prior to buying those new strings :)

And last Christmas just before posting my greeting, I suddenly remembered a poem from DOALM that had an affinity with my artwork. See here - https://www.leonardcohenforum.com/viewt ... ys#p368129

As I said, I love the last two lines.

Now I'm not trying to push you along with your reading of this book - I'm really just reminiscing of days gone by ....
Last edited by B4real on Sat Oct 27, 2018 6:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's poetry and novels

Postby vlcoats » Sat Oct 27, 2018 6:37 am

B4real wrote:...even though I spat the dummy recently because that horrendous episode was so fresh in my mind doesn’t really mean that I won’t stop attempting to get over my anxiety...
"Spat the dummy" eh? I had to Google that one! :D Although it may have been in the Australian slang link that I believe Alan shared with me once? What a great saying! Thanks for sharing it. I'm also hoping that you will keep working on that anxiety and show up in Hydra. ;-)

I am not sure why I am dragging my feet about really getting into DOALM, but it is there for me when I get to it. Besides, like all of Leonard's books, once I have read it for the first time, I can never do that again. So after getting the hay put up for the donkeys this weekend and a couple other chores out of the way, I have 3 long weekends in November...so I plan to be a little selfish then. There's other things I've been neglecting too. Funny how so many of those thing are tied to Leonard now. DOALM is first on the list though.

Thanks for the encouragment!
Vickie
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's poetry and novels

Postby B4real » Sun Nov 11, 2018 7:01 am

vlcoats wrote:
Sat Oct 27, 2018 6:37 am
"Spat the dummy" eh? I had to Google that one! :D
ha, ha! Glad you liked it! And I've got more where that one came from :razz:

btw - I'm buying The Flame very soon :)
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 » Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:36 am

Hello again....

I am sorry it has taken me so long to add to our conversation on Death of a Lady’s Man. I have excuses (most of them valid, some of them made up) for not getting back before now, but I will spare you deciding which is which, since most of the time, even I am not sure!

Those who have read this book already know that the technique Leonard uses in it (2 separate entries for most pieces) is both challenging and rewarding. I am not sure of his purpose behind that. Is he critiquing his own work, or is it what he supposes someone else might think about it? Is it a continuation of the same thought? Is he reminiscing back to when he first conceived the poem (all of the references to his notebooks lead to this) or was he trying to explain the piece to make it easier for someone like me to understand? If the latter is the case, either he or, more likely, I have failed miserably in that respect!

Before you think, "Oh, Vickie doesn't like this book," on the contrary, I like it very much, and I love parts of it even more. I am just having a bit of a brain-bending time processing it, and I am not even through it yet.

As you remember, I first discovered Leonard through his music, where there was an immediate strong connection. B4 called it my "alpha journey". However, music and lyrics are so much easier to swallow than poetry, aren't they? You don't find yourself wondering what it means quite so much. In times of doubt, you can just do what Alan advised me back then and "... close your eyes”.

The first novel and first couple poetry collections were easy enough, but then it got harder. For Pete’s sake…as you know, parts of Beautiful Losers alone take a leap of faith! Since then, I have jumped back and forth between bright flashes of understanding and pages of confusion. Sometimes, I even feel that I am not smart enough to ever understand what he is saying, or maybe he was just crazy... or maybe I am just crazy.

Death of a Lady's Man is especially challenging because not only do I have to try and understand the original entry for each piece, but when I think (or guess) that I might have an inch of clue to understanding what the hell he means, I then have to turn around and try to understand his second entry! Yet in the midst of all that confusion... every once in a while...when I am about to throw up my hands in despair... I will catch a glimpse of understanding.

It reminds me of my new attempts in zazen, when I am just sitting… and I am trying NOT to try… and I'm thinking that I am not supposed to be thinking, but yet I am! And I am trying to get 'there' while also being aware that there is no 'there'! And then suddenly, I catch a glimpse of light and I am there!
I am, "Here, right here...between the moonlight and the lane... between the tunnel and the train..."
But then, it is gone before I can even taste it.

Do I have any favorites so far in Death of a Lady’s Man? My copy is full of sticky notes, but I don't know if it matters. I am still reading it. There are a few that beg mention, but don't ask me why. This post is already too long, and I have sticky notes on too many pages in this collection. Some of them are….The Absence of Monica, My Wife and I, I Have Taken You, The Beetle, The Promise, The Old Days, Approaching the Throne, The Dream, The Unclean Start, Beside My Son, etc…. but I have so much left of this book! How will ever finish it? How will I ever get to The Book of Mercy, The Book of Longing, and The Flame???

Just when I want to throw my hands up, I came upon:

The Dream
O I had such a wonderful dream, she said.
I dreamed you made love to me.
At last, he said to himself, the spirit
has taken up some of the heavy work.

.... and I busted out laughing.
Oh that Leonard... maybe I am not so stupid after all, and maybe I will live long enough to read it all.
Vickie
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's poetry and novels

Postby B4real » Sun Dec 09, 2018 7:56 am

Vickie, I always love the honest way you approach things! I will answer ‘yes’ to all your questions about the reason of the separate entries. I believe that some have a single purpose and others multiple functions and viewpoints. And of course, it is a definite challenge trying to figure it all out and dare I say it, you could have “Buckley’s chance!” You’ve succinctly said it above using just one word, but I’ll use another colloquial expression and expand that by saying it could even drive you to have “kangaroos loose in the top paddock” if you’re not careful ;-)
A reverse thought now arises about the reason for those dozen entries standing alone with no commentary!
But taking the book as a whole, it's reasonable to say DOALM is partly autobiographical in its nature of that time.

These poems/prose appeal to me and some are the same as those you’ve listed:
The Dream, The Beetle, Approaching The Throne, The Change, The Dove, Across The Street, Another Family, Final Examination, Formal In His Thought Of Her, How To Speak Poetry, The News You Really Hate, Petitions, Slowly I Married Her, The Drawing, Sacrifice and I Should Not Say You - this last one is so visual in its content and one of the few with no second musings to it. I can see the seed of a thousand poems here! Plus it could easily belong in Book Of Mercy as could Sacrifice.

And speaking about laughing and Leonard’s wry sense of humour, this instance comes to mind from My Life In Art - "It is true I am a hero of the Sahara but she did not see me under sand and fire, mastering the sphincters of my cowardice" :razz: He must have liked that metaphor because in The Politics Of This Book he repeats it and places it in a silmilar situation, challenge the sphincters of your cowardice under sand and fire.” I have to say that it’s the imagery in the first one which makes me laugh!

I did post this over a year ago on another thread which I can’t find anymore. It’s an interview in the 1970’s with Leonard reading some poems from DOALM. It sits perfectly in this thread and as Leonard himself says in the link below, “there are the answers to all your questions in this book” and “all the answers are here; it’s all in here.” - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5PQvLYscIM

Interestingly, some of the poems LC recites here vary a bit from those that were officially published with particular words and/or lines not included, added or changed - one aptly named The Change, ha! In How To Speak Poetry, a change of word as I hear it brought a wry smile to my face – “your fumbled organs (official) is recited as “your fumbled orgasm. Could it have been misprinted in the book, or is Leonard just changing it up here for a bit more drama!

But after Lover, Lover, Lover there is one recited poem, or part thereof in particular that attracts my attention and I love this line from it, “I left you for a song above my name” and “I want to stand up straighter than a promise ...” The whole verse sounds familiar but unless I’m going cross-eyed, it’s not in my book! On reflection, I bravely (or foolishly) say that it could be an unpublished ‘sequel’ or verse to the just previously recited This Marriage (which does already have an extra line said for emphasis) but I do like it as an entity all of its own. Maybe someone can say for sure what its title is and more about it. :)
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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