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Leonard Cohen



Word count: 5275

Synopsis: This portrait of the great singer/songwriter/poet and novelist, still considered definitive, captures Cohen at home in Monreal after the surreal experience of making “Death of a Ladies Man” with Phil Spector. Candid, funny and insightful, one the finest long pieces about Cohen ever written, it catches Cohen in mid-career, at a moment of great vulnerability, and in a mood to talk about the writing life, music, poetry and his private life.

"I can't listen to anybody talking about anything serious any more. I can't grasp the surface of my life I don't know what's going on any more. I don't have any idea of what my job is, what my work is, what I'm supposed to be doing, how I'm supposed to be living, whether marriage is a viable situation or not, what my relationship to my children is. It's not that it's just unclear. It's like asking an underwater swimmer about the squalls on the surface. I just have no idea”

EXCERPT: Inside the flat, the warped wooden floors, freshly painted grey, matched the sky outside. Music, an obscure adagio, could scarcely be heard over the hiss of an archaic gas heater.
     Ingmar Bergman could be shooting a film in this room. There is something impeccable at work here; Why is the phone on the floor exactly the same color as the floor itself, why is the bed so extravagantly brass in otherwise lean surroundings, why are the curtains so incongruously lace? But the main piece is Leonard Cohen himself, hunched over his coffee like Edgar Allan Poe's raven in a mood to confess: "I'm an eccentric, a minor, minor poet and that's all I ever wanted to be. I don't want to be in the mainstream. The mainstream is like the Ganges. I'm a little rivulet, a leaky genital . . . "
     He pours more coffee, very much at home here, far from Patagonia.
     "The phenomenon of poetry occurs in many realms, probably least frequently on the page. The people who call themselves poets are not necessarily in command of that activity. To try to summon that activity is to give yourself the least chance of experiencing it. If you're really desperate and your life is really dismal and all the contests you have you lose as you tend to in life . . . since no one can take the title poet away from you while you embrace it, it's a good thing to hang on to for a lot of people with nothing else to hang on to. It's probably the last resort. But why not? A lot of people don't care for suicide. Even if all the critics, all your friends, even your wife and lovers say, hey, fella, you're no poet, you can still, in the secret chambers of your heart, say, what do they know? But I think that's a pretty desperate situation. No doubt many people are in it."

2nd Serial Rights (reprint rights) available


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