Leonard on form

At the beginning of February, CBC presenter Shelagh Rogers – the best voice in the west? – interviewed our national icon Leonard Cohen about his induction into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. She talked to him about poetry as well, and he had some interesting things to say about the benefits he’d had from working within the “obligation of rhyme”. “Lift your heart in gratitude,” he says, because it lets you discover congruencies you’d never otherwise encounter. He likes form too:

“Form imposes a certain opportunity to get deeper than your first thought… I don’t have any ideas and I don’t trust my opinions… but when you submit yourself to a form then… you’re invited to dig deeper into the language and to discard the slogans by which you live, the easy alibis of language and of opinion… If you look in the Spenserian stanza for instance, which is a very, very intricate verse form where you have to come up with many rhymes of the same sound, you’re invited to explore realms you usually don’t get to with your ordinary easy thought… I consider my thought stream extremely uninteresting and it’s only when I can discard it that I can say something that I can get behind.”

While you’re hanging around the CBC site, try searching ‘Leonard Cohen’: I stumbled upon a CBC Archives clip of him reciting poems back in 1958…

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