What about your writing, when did it start?
Well, I do remember sitting down at a card table on a sun porch one day when I decided to quit a job. I was working in a brass foundry at the time and one morning I thought, I just can’t take this anymore, and I went out to the sun porch and I started a poem. I had a marvelous sense of mastery and power, and freedom, and strength, when I was writing this poem. I haven’t had that feeling too often since. As a matter of fact, now when I write what turns out to be a poem, or what other people call a poem, it’s because I can’t say anything. It’s because I have to struggle with coherency in its most elementary state so that the kind of things that are in the last poems of my anthology are just one degree over, or one degree on the side of coherence. If you just took that degree away I would be left in a…I would be disintegrated. In other words, I want my poems to be, I don’t even think of them as poems, when I wrote those things they were techniques to get myself together. But I found I can’t use any ornaments, I can’t use tricks.
An Interview with Leonard Cohen by Michael Harris. Duel: Winter 1969.