Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen's been all over the arts news these days after his induction into the Canadian Songwriter's Hall of Fame. I was lucky enough to hear his interview yesterday on the CBC, which was more inspiring than I can possibly put into words. Listening to him (I'm almost about to say changed my life, but I've vowed not to be so melodramatic), you can really tell he's a man so connected with words and with their meaning on one hand, but on the other seems to be at peace too with the absolute poverty of meaning they can convey as well. You can also tell that he's dedicated himself to thought. He speaks slowly and deliberately, letting silence punctuate so many of his thoughts.

I envy that. I envy dedicating yourself entirely to your art for the greater part of your life. Living in semi-poverty, without the ins and outs of a full-time job or the mind-numbing drones of everyday things: television, meetings, work email, work documents, and on and on. My goal over the next few years is to become self-sufficient in a way. To truly give over to my own creative spirit, as much as humanly possible. Let's see how far I get. It all depends on my royalty cheques. Come on Little Women! Or Frankenstein! Or Robinson Crusoe! What's that M.J. Rose thing? Is this blog worth $7.95? If you think so, go on and grab a copy of some Classic Starts from your local book store.

Annnnywaaay. The interview talked about a lot of different things, from the inspiration behind many of his infamous songs to talking about his novels and his poetry. But one thing in particular stuck with me. The interviewer (Shelagh Rogers, I think) asked why he was so fond of form vs. free verse. And Cohen replied that he enjoyed working with form because it forces the poet to look beyond the first thought. I guess he's kind of anti-first thought equals best-thought school of writing. It forces the writer to move beyond that thought into something deeper, richer and ultimately more interesting.

And it made me want to write a sonnet. Even though I know I would probably suck at it.

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