Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I never said that I was brave

The birds they sang
At the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don't dwell on what
Has passed away
Or what is yet to be
The wars they will
Be fought again
The holy dove
Be caught again
Bought and sold
And bought again
The dove is never free
We asked for signs
The signs were sent
The birth betrayed
The marriage spent
The widowhood
Of every government
Signs for all to see
Can't run no more
With the lawless crowd
While the killers in high places
Say their prayers out loud
But they've summoned up
A thundercloud
And they're going to hear from me
You can add up the parts
But you won't have the sum
You can strike up the march
There is no drum
Every heart
To love will come
But like a refugee
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Today, a homage to Leonard Cohen. I recently watched a film on Sundance called 'Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man' based on a January, 2005 tribute show in Australia called "Came So Far For Beauty"about the life and career of Leonard Cohen. This concert included Nick Cave, fellow Montreal-ers Wainwrights--Rufus, Martha and mother Kate McMcGarrigle--Beth Orton, the beautiful voice of Antony and many others, including and a solo by Leonard with U-2. So many Leonard Cohen lyrics in only 143 minutes.

Listening and watching, all the great music and dialogue interspersed by present day 72-year old Leonard actually helped shed some of that light in the cracks of uncertainty and pessimism I keep hidden regarding my own writing. He has reminded himself that he doesn't have all the time in the world, but he continues to labor over each word he writes. I wrote this down to remember in those dark times of uncertainty about the ink in my own pen:

"If it is your destiny to be this laborer called a writer, you know that you've got to work every day. But you also know that you are not going to get it every day. You have to be prepared, but you realize you don't command the enterprise. Sometimes when you no longer see yourself as the hero of your own drama, expecting victory after victory. . .I found that things became a lot easier when I no longer expected to win." Good advice.

So now when I read flawless prose by someone like Amy Hempel or one of Lorrie Moore's stories in Birds of America and want to give up because I could never write that well I guess I need to tell myself to keep working, yes? I know for sure that even my weaker voice needs to be heard too. Something meaningful is my goal. You too?

[I'm happy to share a copy of one of my watercolors with you, though the quality is compromised as the original is in storage.]

1 comment:

AnnieElf said...

Hi Noni. Thank you for stopping by today and your words of encouragement. Reading this poem and discovering it was written by the great Leonard Cohen has inspired me to get out the two LPs I have of him from back in the early 70's. I also very muchs like the watercolor at the top of the post. Your work, perhaps?