Okay, so there are a few poets in this world who are good at describing everything that came out of the Lord (or what I usually understand as existence). Energy, if we have to keep physics in the equation. It could be anyone: Keats, Blake, Dickinson, Ramanujan or anyone else. They have been really good, I mean really good, in trying to be the best and trust me when I say that some of them are good. They’re either dead or alive, and the students of the education system of any country can place them on the list of classical, modern or post-modern poets. They’re good and we all know that, but then there’s Cohen, who’s neither good nor bad at describing what we see and chose-to-not see around us. No one can/should use any adjective for him. He just exists – with everything, in everything, by being every single component this world is made of, and that’s how we should approach him.
Find Me Leonard Cohen, I’m Almost Thirty” by Amit Ranjan is the book I love and lust for because I can see the Cohen I know in it. One can never claim that he/she is a Cohen lover because then he/she has to forget everything – not because Leonard Cohen wanted to see his lovers without anything/anyone but him, but since there’s no other way to understand him other than his poetry, we have to forget everything that’s going on around us just to know him (knowing > understanding) through the poems that are going to feed on us.
The book easily did put the concept of ‘being’ before me with all its bars and bureaucrats; whiskeys and windows; monochrome and measurements; and hammers and hindrances. It is tough to not fall in love with the book – I fell for it for two obvious reasons:
- It has Leonard Cohen’s soul
- The writer’s creation knows how to be an ode.
It is not easy to review such a book because the only good thing one can do for such a book is to read it. Reviewing and criticizing it would destroy everything that both the writer and his inspiration hold. But one can easily say why he/she loves and hates a book. I hated it because it ended, and also because I didn’t get to be its part. I loved it for everything books like these try to give us: love, anger, passion, joy, happiness, stories in poems and simple instances someone like Cohen could only notice and write about. I used my technique to feel the soul of the book because I’ve seen people penning books on their inspirations, but most of the time, I failed to connect with them because either the inspiration killed the poet/writer or the poet/writer accidentally killed the inspiration, so naturally, I wasn’t sure about how this unusual book would be (if I’ve to be blatantly honest).
So I played my favourite song by Cohen named Famous Blue Raincoat before getting into the book from a random poem because that’s how I usually start a book of poetry. I found the poem “Hesaraghatta Bar” as it was there waiting for me (as a lover or a vulture). I got to read some of the finest lines of this book through this poem. The lines speak of the world most beautifully and, trust me, I am not exaggerating. Okay, if you don’t trust me, then let’s go through a few lines (for the sake of this creation).
The poet writes:
“Leo speaks Korean,
I speak Hindi,
and the bartender Kannada;
but we all speak one language
under the evening star –
the language of Hesaraghatta Bar”.
I felt these lines because I have a habit of being the most sane human being after I am not in my senses. Similarly, when Cohen wrote: ‘For you/I will be a doctor jew/and search/in all the garbage cans for foreskins/to sew back again, I really fell in love with the woman of my life’. It is not because of what Cohen wrote about. Rather, the atmosphere that the poem created just pushed me to propose. Similarly, Hesaraghatta is a fictitious bar with very real people wanting to be together. The writer speaks about a tailor and a sailor, an American Democrat and Hanuman, the one we worship; he speaks about one of Kaifi Azmi’s beautiful poems to make us believe that it is a poem that arose from a bar that’s ours, but, equally, it can work for someone who’s out there in Cuba looking for a piece of wood. That’s how Hesaraghatta Bar became my favourite poem from this collection of poems.
I hope you went through the lyrics of Suzanne, the song/poem that made every woman drool for him. Amit Ranjan speaks about a woman named Susan who’s so similar yet dissimilar to the Suzanne of Cohen. I don’t know what triggered the writer to frame the poem in such a beautiful way, but I’m glad that this poem came out of him. Susan is a heartbroken woman who’s speaking of the one she’s in love with but knows that he doesn’t love her because he is a cheater. Interestingly, this isn’t the conclusion. The poet keeps on playing with what we’re thinking about Susan and Peter and makes the poem sharp and delicate at the same time. Anyone who has been cheated would fall in love with the poem like anyone who’s just in love with the poem without experiencing even a single heartbreak.
I read the book three months back, and I chose not to write about it because I always kept on failing to put my words properly. I am fond of exposing, and I am equally fond of composing. I was in a big dilemma, and I didn’t know what to do with this book. Should I open it like I usually do with the women of my life? Or should I just compose a simple review with words that would mean nothing, because, for a fine creation like this, words would be a curse, just like when Rinzai, a Zen follower, came and sat before his master, they didn’t go for any verbal or non-verbal conversation, but the master understood everything Rinzai had in his mind. The silence always works because that’s where we usually find love, poetry and beauty.
It is very important for books like these that the publisher should work on it like he/she is working on the best piece that’s going to come out for the readers who are fond of enjoying short, stupid poems. Red River just did the same thing. Sometimes we fall in love with a book not only because of the content the writer shared with the publisher – the work of the publisher matters a lot too, just to keep the creation before the world, knowing that the world is going to see something very unique. I won’t push you to go for the book, but if you love Cohen and good songwriting, you’ll go for the book. Also, if you are looking for some of the finest poems you never came across but you know they’re there somewhere, then you’ll definitely go for it.
Kabir Deb is an author, editor, content writer based in Karimganj, Assam. He works as a teacher in a government institution and has completed his Masters in Life Sciences from Assam University and is pursuing Masters in Creative Writing from The University of Oxford, London.
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