Tag Archives: Leonard Cohen

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen

I was looking around over at Pitchfork this evening and discovered, much to my joy that for this week only, you can watch, in full, the 1965 film, Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen. The film takes us into the world of Cohen the poet and novellist and provides some extraordinary footage of Cohen reading from his early work and discussing the art of poetry. He is elegant and captivating.



So without any further ramblings… Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen. 

And if you can’t find the time to watch it this week, I also discovered you can watch the complete film here.


Filed under poetry & publishing

Take a ride… the sounds of Kerouac, Cohen & Bon Iver

As the clouds roll in and the humidity continues to rise, dip your toes into the sounds of these new folk sounds. Take a ride to the rugged coast of Kerouac’s Big Sur with the Jay Farrar & Ben Gibbard; be mesmerised by the messianic tones of Cohen as he tames the crowd at the 1970 Isle of Wight festival and rug up in the snow storm of Bon Iver’s Blood Bank. You won’t regret it…



Jay Farrar & Ben Gibbard – Big Sur

Taken from the soundtrack to the new Kerouac film, One Fast Move or I’m Gone, this is a sweet slice of folk from the pages of Big Sur. And while Kerouac was more of a jazz man, I can see him driving along some mid-west highway, arm out the window, nodding approvingly. There is an ache in both Farrar & Gibbard’s voice that lends an authenticity to Kerouac’s words and the arrangements distill Kerouac’s bummed-out prose beautifully.




Leonard Cohen – Suzanne

Forty summers ago, Cohen stepped on stage at the Isle of Wight festival. His set followed Jimi Hendrix (touted as one of the best of Hendrix’s career) and the audience was close to rioting. Standing in the centre of what had become a political maelstrom, Cohen looking like a ragged messiah, stood undaunted and delivered a set of songs and poems that brought the crowd to a stand still. For the first time, this set has now been released along with DVD footage of the concert and a documentary by Murray Lerner. After his mesmerising tour earlier this year, this is on the must have list.




Bon Iver – Blood Bank

After the release of the much lauded For Emma, Forever Ago, many wondered whether Bon Iver mainmain, Justin Vernon would be able to capture the beauty of his lovelorn debut. Blood Bank puts all those doubts to rest… The warmth of Vernon’s voice sits somewhere in the chest cavity and reverberates, longingly. Images of stacked up cups of blood, snow storms and secrets that fuck with your honour are pieced together to create a song that sweeps you away. Breaking up has never sounded so good…


Filed under who listens to the radio?

Literary Tattoos

Ever had the urge to have a line etched on your skin? If you answered yes, then this anthology is for you.

HTML Giant’s, Justin Taylor and Eva Talmadge are putting together a book featuring images of literary tattoos… so as they say, if you want to be in the book, get in the chair.

For years, I have wanted to have Cohen’s two hearts symbol tattooed on my arm, but my downright fear of pain has so far prevented this. This person obviously does not share my fear…


Unified Hearts


And for that matter, neither does my lovely wife …


julie 'poem'


So if you have some literary ink to share, head on over to HTML Giant and check out the submission guidelines… Somehow, I don’t think I will be in those pages.


Filed under poetry & publishing

Desert(ed) Island Poems #10 – Robert Lort

Brace yourself for this one folks… there are some turbulent seas ahead as we sail this leaking ship to the Desert(ed) Island of Robert Lort.




Photo by Sharka Bosakova: taken opposite the ‘Poet’s Cafe’ in Montville


“I am the first to wear your shackles like a bracelet” (Cohen)

– Apologies to William Burroughs and Kathy Acker, you didn’t write enough poetry.


Rimbaud – Une Saison D’Enfer / A Season In Hell

L’enfant terrible of French poetry, a revolutionary and visionary genius who, in disillusioned disgust, defiantly threw poetry to the wind, aged only 21 to become an enterprising, global-roaming capitalist. A real rock’n’roll nigger of the earth, he flung words like a tormented starving savage, systematically disordering all the senses, in a pent-up, bohemian, absinthe-soaked rebellion. Poetry is but a farce. Il est une autre!

Read the poem here: http://www.mag4.net/Rimbaud/poesies/Season.html


Patti Smith – Babelfield

Patti Smith normally talks about her discovery of Rimbaud at a Philadelphia bus depot bookshop, aged 16. Patti Smith was perhaps the only cherished find that a family member ever dropped into my lap, from a pile of 40 or so dusty ’70s LPs there stood “Easter” with it’s uplifted hairy armpit, I was instantly captivated. This feverish, slipshod, wide-eyed, barefoot girl carved out the very path between poetry and rock’n’roll. A live version of “Babelfield” was released on the rare 12” “Set Free,” the printed version here is but slightly different.

“wherein war is expressed
thru the violent hieroglyphs
of sound and motion
a scream is a shoulder
the profile of life
raised are our instruments – sonic necks
lubricants of aggression and flesh
notes pierce the body round
wounds are cherished blessed and bound
by boys posed before the spinal region
of the parthenon…”


Daevid Allen – <theordinaryaustralian@y2k>

I first saw Daevid Allen, in all his nakedness, performing with members of Japan’s heavy psychedelic band Acid Mothers Temple. As head of legendary trip-out band Gong, Daevid Allen is like a Dr Seuss on bad acid, delivering bent and dirty nursery rhymes from on top a giant towering mushroom. Unabashed, dirty, in yr face, perverse and political (without pining for attention votes), Daevid Allen is a word toting terrorist, a delinquent yahoo with a high IQ, high on contamination, bursting with provocative ephemera.“The Ordinary Australian” comes from his “Poet For Sale” where he lampoons that ordinary suburban Ozzie, “Those ordinary decent small time insensitive stupid dim witted arrogant aggressive lying bad tempered shit centred over paid over fed lazy spoilt brat…” What greater prestige is there, than getting kicked out of the Woodford Folk Festival for saying ‘FUCK’ in a poem?


Steven Jesse Bernstein – Face

From the CD “Prison” which this Russian DJ on 4ZZZ repeatedly played. This must have stood out like a sore thumb on the ultra-grunge Sub-Pop label. On the insert is a photo of Steven and William Burroughs, as thou comparing unsightly ties. The  expression “Look there’s Stevie,” as one pointed to the CD, became an in-joke amongst my housemates. A harrowing tale about a disaffected youth, ridiculed for his ugliness, he became a detached loner who never ventured out, eventually needing to be hospitalized, he became a drug addict, alcoholic and criminal… of cause, not one word of it is true! After listening to this long poem one always felt a little lucky to have a head that pointed forward, it could be much worse after all – polio, glasses, braces, pills… a film documentary about his life “I Am Secretly An Important Man” is currently in the making.

Read it here: http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~zealots/sjb/face.html


Antonin Artaud – Pour en finir avec le jugement de dieu / To Have Done With The Judgment Of God

The great uncrowned Antonin Artaud was a silent film actor, artist, film writer, theatre director and theorist. A crazed genius of French poetry, he was expelled from the Surrealist movement for being, quite simply, really mad! – he spend years confined in asylums, was almost starved to death by the Nazis and suffered countless electroshock treatments, so violent they fractured the vertebrae in his spine. The original Body Without Organs, he lived in a perpetual state of fulmination, condemnation and mania, finally diagnosed with rectal cancer, he died from an overdose of chloral hydrate still clutching his shoe. His notorious radio broadcast, “Pour en finir avec le jugement de dieu” was banned even by the French, before it’s scheduled broadcast in 1948, the recording was eventually stolen from Radio France during the riots of May ’68. The play is a blasphemous and scatological tirade against America, complete with glossolalia, cacophonous percussion and Artaud’s cater!
wauling, unending scream that turns the insides out.

Read the poem here: http://ndirty.cute.fi/~karttu/tekstit/artaud.htm


Steve Kilbey – Untitled

“Good, now and forever, music reaches and awakens…” from the cassette insert for the Church’s “Starfish” (’88). I printed out these words and glued them to the cover of my uni folder along with the paisley cover image of “HeyDay” as some sort of statement defying the rest, standing apart, and encapsulating something I didn’t want to lose (I wasn’t in the arts faculty like all of you). Childhood memories at dusk, a microscopic sense attractor, disappearing into muffled tongues…

Read the poem here: http://www.quartzcity.net/seance-archives/2001-01/2001-01-0263.txt


Leonard Cohen – This Is The Only Poem

From “The Energy Of Slaves” ’72, in his so-called anti-poem mode, which spawned a sort of poetics of punk (even though he forgets the name). We know Leonard like an ugly uncle, melancholic, full of self-pity, spiritual yearnings, betrayals, anguishes, sexual conquests and maybe even more sexual failures, honesty, lost trust, misgivings and life’s futility. Turning against popular notions of the time, he dismissed the fads to carve out his own course. There is much here to learn, but you don’t want to know too quick, some will turn away in disgust and denial, to only years later confess it’s virtues.

This is the only poem
I can read
I am the only one
can write it
Others seem to think
the past can guide them
My own music
is not merely naked
It is open-legged
It is like a cunt
and like a cunt
must needs be houseproud
I didn’t kill myself
when things went wrong
I didn’t turn
to drugs or teaching
I tried to sleep
but when I couldn’t sleep
I learned to write
I learned to write
what might be read
on nights like this
by one like me


Genesis P-Orridge – A Debris Of Murder

I first heard this on my friend’s Download CD “The Eyes Of Stanley Pain” where it was called “H Sien Influence”, years later I was astonished to find a different version called “A Debris Of Murder” on the Throbbing Gristle bootleg “Assume Power Focus“ (although the vocal recording is identical) this version is the same as on “The Fractured Garden,” but the version on Thee Majesty’s “Wordship” is different again. Did I mention I’m a collector? Gen has such an endearing warm scented voice, that reminds us that life is mere folly and all throw away. Like no other, he approaches childlike onto that horrendous threshold of existentialism, felt when one stares too long at the things of ‘time’ and ‘body’… E’ve seen his boobs too.

Read the poem here: http://www.genesisp-orridge.com/index.php?section=article&id=36


Tristian Tzara – XIII

The bemused Tristian Tzara sits wearing a monocle, beret and carrying a walking stick – it was the 1920s after all. Tristian Tzara was the key linchpin of Dada, the radical and extravagant art movement preceding the so much more lame movement of Surrealism. Dada invented the cut-up, collage, sound poems and madness itself. Delightful and charming, Tristian Tzara lacks arms, strings and a few buttons, but considers himself very likeable.

DADA is a virgin microbe
DADA is against the high cost of living
limited company for the exploitation of ideas
DADA has 391 different attitudes and colours according to the sex of the president
It changes – affirms – says the opposite at the same time – no importance – shouts – goes fishing.
Dada is the chameleon of rapid and self-interested change.
Dada is against the future. Dada is dead. Dada is absurd. Long live Dada. Dada is not a literary school, howl


Blixa Bargeld – Der Mund ist die Wunde des Alphabetes

To most, Blixa Bargeld is known as long time guitarist with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, but he is also lead singer of the German industrial band Einsturzende Neubauten. There is perhaps no better introduction to their music than Nick Cave’s own discovery, glimpsing them on Dutch TV circa 1982, “For sixty seconds, this man stood as if paralysed, hexed by his own madness. Then he opened his mouth and let out a scream that sounded like somebody was pulling a thistle out of his soul.” The original text is from “Stimme Frisst Feuer,” but the agonised words appear in the song “Blutvergiftung” (Blood Poisoning, 1984). Squealing and caterwauling like a parched and wounded beast, “the words were sung backwards onto a backwards recording tape so they’d be comprehensible when played forward.” 

“Der Mund ist die Wunde des Alphabetes.  Meine Schiere kehren zuruck lecken die Wunde…”

“The mouth is the wound of the alphabet. My screams turn back to lick the wound…”



About Robert:



Robert Lort is a UNregular Brisbane based poet and an original member of the SpeedPoets collective. He has worked across theoretical, fictional and poetic realms inspired by everything from Surrealism to Deleuze & Guattari to avant-garde music and film. Robert Lort maintains the Azimute website http://www.azimute.org and is a regular art critic for various journals.




Wie oft stellst du dir Frage ueber deinen Geisteszustand?

Soft white bones, can they still think?  She unties the ribbons and runs her
plump fingers along the blunt teeth.

According to my calculations… cutlery draws came crashing to the ground
following the 2nd primordial mirror stage
Thereafter, the cluttered ratio of conduits fogged the playing cards of the
pinafored circus lads.
galactic shadows severed the inter-organic mirrors
parching the breath of fairground elephants and
toothless children began playing with scissors
Alice stood there shaking her head,
“who’s counting the dead?”

windup accordion optricians puckered their queasiness
rusty fingers scratched the itchy fur
yesterday’s rainbow fell crumpled around my legs
gentrified delicacies left vanquished, ambushed in misery
walrus feathers neatly brushed into manicured madness
all the slip-static of imvaginated emissions
teem in heat wrinkles of insect grease euphoria
the dead groans of the universe, spat-out on your plate
you crawl back into your skin and set your cloths alight

primal and flickering, depraved once more
sinking between elephant toes, awash with awe
the residual labyrinth creaks in my eyes
discreetly wretching the golden entrails
vanishing obscurity to deprivation tanks
swelling thresholds of vomit puddles stretched over a quivering sky
Have you not been told? LOVE spelt backwards is EVOL!


Filed under Desert(ed) Island Poems

Leonard Cohen Live in Melbourne: a review in the shape of a poem by Andy White

belief in beauty

i’m in the same room as leonard
he’s kneeling on stage,
he’s singing low
lower than you would think
sonically possible

it’s a big room
and he welcomes us in
thanks us for our hospitality
with charm, charisma and

he – twice – describes his band with a
flow of great adjectives

all could apply to leonard
even the last,
as his 74-year old frame
skips lightly off stage
after raising his hat and smiling
from a heart as deep
as his voice

there are many hats on stage,
leonard’s is pulled over his eyes and
removed between the songs
to acknowledge our applause
to put on his guitar
to thank the musicians

leonard recites lines from songs
before the band begins to play:
‘a thousand kisses deep’, and
‘there is a crack in everything
that’s how the light gets in’

tears come to my eyes

now he’s singing about
the moon and broken violins
love and solitude
intimacy and
fond farewells

old europe to his left
three angels to his right
north america the swing
in his step

each word is chosen
with care
every phrase delivered
lower than the last
beauty and
belief in all i hear

he says:

“thanks for keeping these songs alive
through the years”



a. white


Set List from the Melbourne Concert February 5, 2009

Dance Me To The End Of Love
The Future
Ain’t No Cure For Love
Bird On A Wire
Everybody Knows
In My Secret Life
Who By Fire
Chelsea Hotel # 2
Hey That’s No Way To Say Goodbye

* * *

Tower Of Song
The Gypsy Wife
The Partisan
Boogie Street
I’m Your Man
A Thousand Kisses Deep
Take This Waltz

* * *

So Long Marianne
First We Take Manhattan

* * *

Famous Blue Raincoat
If It Be Your Will

* * *

I Tried To Leave You
Whither Thou Goest



About Andy:

Belfast boy Andy White is a rock’n’roll star in his own land. He has merged pop sensibility with lyrical excellence, social commentary and acoustic guitars ever since his debut single ‘Religious Persuasion’ and first album ‘Rave On Andy White’ in 1986, right up to and including his last album ‘Garageband’.

Since ‘Rave On’, Andy has released 8 solo albums, two compilations and a live album. He has written classics such as ‘James Joyce’s Grave’ and ‘Street Scenes From My Heart’, won Ireland’s top songwriting award, lived in Ireland, Europe and currently Australia.

Andy White has worked with the likes of Peter Gabriel and Tim Finn, been the A of ALT, won awards and critical acclaim for his albums, and toured the world with his acoustic guitar.

His new album Garageband (MGM) was recorded in Melbourne and Real World Studios by John Leckie, producer of ‘The Bends’ and ‘Z’ by My Morning Jacket.


Find out more:



Filed under poetry & publishing, who listens to the radio?

Review: Leonard Cohen live at Brisbane Entertainment Centre

At 74 years of age, Cohen is still a man working for our smile. Last night there were more than ten thousand of them looking back at him. It was a joyous transaction.


Cohen stood as a beacon of beauty, hope, humility. Every word, every movement (that now famous shuffle) infused with a commitment to delivering his life’s work.

From opener Dance Me To The End Of Love, Cohen’s voice sat somewhere deep inside me, resonating. His lyrical legacy laid bare in a show that spanned more than 3-hours. For the most part, the audience sat hushed, each of them a pilgrim, there to be transformed by the music, poetry and spirituality of Cohen’s words. And although the music is stunning, each of the players in this 9-piece ensemble brimming with passion, it is the words that hold us.

His well-worn baritone beguiles as he strips back the opening of ‘Anthem’, speaking the words:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

Later in the show, he gives a solo reading of  the first verses of ‘If It Be Your Will’:

If it be your will
That I speak no more
And my voice be still
As it was before
I will speak no more
I shall abide until
I am spoken for
If it be your will

If it be your will
That a voice be true
From this broken hill
I will sing to you
From this broken hill
All your praises they shall ring
If it be your will
To let me sing

before standing back, hat held over heart as the angelic Webb sisters, take the lead and deliver a stunning, stripped back version of this song.

And then he returns the lyric of A Thousand Kisses Deep to their poetic heart, reciting them with only a whisper of Hammond Organ to accompany him.

In these moments Cohen, the poet, holds us breathless.

There were many other standouts, in a set list that showcased every period of Cohen’s work. Some of mine were, My Secret Life, Famous Blue Raincoat, First We Take Manhattan, Who By Fire and Tower of Song, where Cohen urges the gorgeous backing vocalists Sharon Robinson and Charley & Hattie Webb to ‘keep going, keep going that’s all I want to hear…’

Yes, Cohen not only delivers a concert studded with moments of illumination, he delivers the secret of life’s suffering. And it is… Do dum dum dum, de do dum dum.

After numerous standing ovations, he stands before us one last time. The audience on their feet, united, waiting for Cohen’s final sermon.

He thanks us for keeping his songs alive for so long, hopes we are all surrounded by love, family and friends, but if not, he hopes that happiness finds us in solitude.

The lights come up for the final time and I am left with one hand on my chest clutching the sonorous rumble of his voice. A voice I will never let out…


Filed under discussions, who listens to the radio?

Cohen’s Beacon of Light



Kathleen Noonan wrote today in her Last Word column in the Courier Mail that Leonard Cohen represents hope. Woven throughout her review of Leonard Cohen’s recent concert at the Rochford Winery in Victoria’s Yarra Valley is the uplifiting story of three brothers who have traveled long and far to be there… and I am not referring to distance. Cohen is a uniting force, someone there to right the ‘shipwreck’. At a time where everyone is talking about the ‘rough seas’ ahead, artists like Cohen have never been more important.

Read the full article here:



Filed under discussions