Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Selected Poems 1956-1968 by Leonard Cohen

Why did we not read Leonard Cohen in school?

   In this compilation of poems, Leonard Cohen describes beautifully (and sometimes painfully) the human experiences of war, famine, pleasure, passion, love, heartbreak, and religion.  I honestly don't know why I never came across any of his poetry in my college classes!  Mixing beautiful storytelling with the creativity and depth of poetry, reading his work often feels like total indulgence, and if you've never had the pleasure of hearing him recite his poetry/lyrics, then I beg you to play this video.  Hearing his powerful voice and intense deliverance really is a new experience.

   Everything about Leonard Cohen is a feast for the senses. Let me tell is a man who knows his way around language.  Some of my favorite poems from this collection include:

"Poem" (page 30)
"Warning" (page 31)
"A Cross Didn't Fall On Me" (page 182-183)
"I Believe You Heard Your Master Sing" (page 214-216)

Even though "Famous Blue Raincoat" is not included in this book, that one will always be my favorite of his poems. Ok maybe that one and "Hallelujah." Anyway, Leonard Cohen has been admired and covered by artists such as Lou Reed, Joni Mitchell, Rufus Wainwright (Cohen is the grandfather to his daughter), Jeff Buckley, k.d. lang, and Tori Amos. See what I mean?