Leonard Cohen: A Poet? Who Knew?

Leonard Cohen's distinctive voice and music is recognized the world over but for some reason his poetry doesn't seem to get the acclaim or recognition it receives in his own home country. For instance, this article from The Guardian is bending over backwards to remind people over in the UK that Cohen isn't just a singer/songwriter. I have to admit that Cohen's poems don't always suit my tastes but his great contributions to North American poetry and to experimental prose (Beautiful Losers) shouldn't be overlooked just because he's perhaps more famous as a musician.

From The Guardian:

As Leonard Cohen arrives in Edinburgh and London this week, fresh from triumphant appearances at Manchester and Glastonbury, the 73-year-old is experiencing some of the warmest reviews and greatest popularity since his heyday as younger audiences are learning to appreciate some of the finest songwriting of the last century.

But we shouldn't forget that Cohen is as strong a poet as he is a musician. Since the publication of his first collection in 1956, Let Us Compare Mythologies, in the prestigious McGill Poetry series, Cohen has established himself as a writer with a distinctive voice in the canon of Canadian and American poetry. Cohen would still be highly thought of if he'd never written a song in his life but had stuck to writing his wry, ironic, tender verse. His poetry often talks of love, but it is never straightforwardly romantic. Will Self once described Nick Cave's love songs as "at once perfumed with yearning, and already (stinking) of the putrefying loss-to-come", so too Cohen's love poetry is as dark and bitter as many of his best songs.

More here.

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