Sunday, February 11, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day, Leonard Cohen

True Story. It's Valentine's Day, 1980 and I'm in English 11. OK, I'm at home playing pool with my friends at lunch time and Bob reminds me that we need a love poem for class right after lunch.
Now, my literal interests at the time mainly focused on Science Fiction. Poetry was something you had to do for English class ( oddly enough, little has changed ). So I wander over to the parent's scant book shelves - which mainly consisted of Reader's Digest condensed books, Dad's collection of Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson and a few novels from the 70's that had the racier pages dogeared ( I still have that copy of "Coffee, Tea or Me"). OK - I'm doomed.
Suddenly, there it is. Sandwiched between "Peyton Place" and "Dr. Spock" - "Leonard Cohen - Selected Poems 1956 - 1968". Leonard, if there is a God, you WILL have written a romantic poem.
Walking back to school, I'm reading. OK - if this is romantic poetry, I'm a Dalek. This is all "burning cigarette heart...", "stale whiskey kisses...", "death of my soul..." ... not good. Not good at all.
So I picked the least despondent of them all and read it in front of the class. After Shakespearean sonnets, Gothic bodice rippers and verse ripped from Hallmark cards, here comes Leonard Cohen.
There's a silence, then the teacher says, "I just adore Leonard Cohen. I'm glad there's someone who knows what real poetry is all about".

Anyways, thanks Leonard. And for the record, "Suzanne" is a pretty cool song.

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