9780771022326 / 0771022328

Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs


Publisher:McClelland & Stewart



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About the book:

The publication of Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs brought Leonard Cohen's poetry, which had long been obscured by his intermittently prolific recording career, back into prominence. His poems will be instantly familiar to fans of his music or novels; they share the same cynical romanticism, morbid eroticism, and ironic humour. Many of his poems are spare and declamatory, relying on the intensity of their imagery and the wryness of their speaker to produce their effect. The opening lines of "The Drawer's Condition on November 28, 1961" are exemplary:

Is there anything emptier
than the drawer where
you used to store your opium?
How like a black-eyed Susan
blinded into ordinary daisy
is my pretty kitchen drawer!
How like a nose sans nostrils
is my bare wooden drawer!
How like an eggless basket!
How like a pool sans tortoise!
Cohen is such an old-fashioned bard that it is often difficult to believe he inhabits the same literary landscape that nurtures postmodern experimentalism. Most of his poems are richly lyrical, which made his turn to songwriting a natural one. Published collections of lyrics are seldom very satisfying, though, and even Cohen's best songs, such as the unforgettable "Suzanne" or the spare and sublime "Anthem," lose most of their intensity on paper. Stranger Music contains material from nearly all of Cohen's important works; even his experimental novel Beautiful Losers is represented. Cohen has published very little new material since 1983's Book of Mercy, and, unless he enters another period of productivity, Stranger Music will remain the definitive Cohen collection for a very long time. --Jack Illingworth

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