From a 1974 interview by Jordi Sierra I Fabra in Barccelona. Published in Leonard Cohen by Alberto Manzano (Antonio Dalmau/G. Gddo: 1978). Photo by Pete Purnell. Originally posted Oct 1, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
Did you start out seeing yourself as a poet or aspiring to be a poet?
I never thought of myself as a poet, to tell you the truth. I always thought that poetry is the verdict that others give to a certain kind of writing. So to call yourself a poet is a kind of dangerous description. It’s for others; it’s for others to use… You know, you scribble away for one reason or another. You’re touched by something that you read. You want to number yourself among these illustrious spirits for one advantage or another, some social, some spiritual. It’s just ambition that tricks you into the enterprise, and then you discover whether you have any actual aptitude for it or not. I always thought of myself as a competent, minor poet. I know who I’m up against. You’re up against Dante, and Shakespeare, Isaiah, King David, Homer, you know. So I’ve always thought that I, you know, do my job OK.
From Songwriter Leonard Cohen Discusses Fame, Poetry and Getting Older by Jeffrey Brown. PBS: Broadcast June 28, 2006.
What are you good at that has nothing to do with music?
I can make a couple of good sandwiches: tuna salad and chopped egg salad. And Greek bean soup. I was a cook for my old Zen master for many years. So there were two or three dishes that he liked, you know. Teriyaki salmon, a few things. I wouldn’t call myself a good cook by any means. My son is a very good cook. My curries are not bad.
Leonard Cohen on Longevity, Money, Poetry and Sandwiches By Gavin Edwards (Rolling Stone: Sept 19, 2014). Photo by Chris Buck Website Instagram.
More about Leonard Cohen’s cooking can be found at
I live in Montreal, which is a French city, in Quebec, which is a French country–especially now, it is a country. I live as a minority writer, almost in exile, because there is no English writing community where I live. These are very special Canadian problems which to me form the Canadian character, because we’re very much involved in this notion of what is minority and what is majority; and yet while these questions are in the air, it seems that everybody has space. Because we don’t have the melting pot notion at all in Canada, we have a federal system that runs right down into the psyche of the country. So in a sense I live like a foreigner in my own city, cut off by the fact that I don’t speak French that well. I can get by, but it’s not a tongue I could ever move around in in a way that would satisfy the appetites of the mind or the heart.
From Leonard Cohen: The Romantic in a Ragpicker’s Trade by Paul Williams (Crawdaddy, March 1975). Photo by Thomas1313 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons. Originally posted December 17, 2011 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
1966 Quote from He’s His Man by Juan Rodriguez. National Post: March 10, 2008. Photo taken in Edmonton in 1966 by Rocco Caratozzolo, contributed by Kim Solez. Originally posted July 6, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric