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
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
brings together, at last, the words of a Canadian artist who has been anything but a stranger to so many of us for so long.…Cohen has woven a chain of words that binds us together.”
is a massive record of the poet’s imaginative journey through beauty, through horror, through the extremes of love and despair.…Cohen is always a poet of extremes: that’s where he lives, at the edges of them.”
is a record of Cohen’s dispatches from the front, an invaluable record of a shining voice. It burns still.”
–Ottawa CitizenFrom the Hardcover edition.