Which writer (living or dead) would you like to be for a day?

Leonard Cohen in Greece
Leonard Cohen in Greece

Western Australia seems to be the hotspot for writers at the moment. I have just finished reading Annabel Smith’s wonderful first two novels (A New Map of the Universe; Whisky Charlie Foxtrot) and Amanda Curtin has recently released Elemental (we share the same publisher in UWAP). Annabel and Amanda are part of a collective of writers — alongside Sara Foster, Emma Chapman, Natasha Lester and Dawn Barker — who, once a month, have a writerly debate via their blogs, answering a question about the writing life.

This month, I’m thrilled to be a guest blogger in their Writers Ask Writers series, with the curly question: Which writer (living or dead) would you like to be for a day?

My writing process is like a bear stumbling into a beehive or a honey cache: I’m stumbling right into it and getting stuck, and it’s delicious and it’s horrible and I’m in it and it’s not very graceful and it’s very awkward and it’s very painful and yet there’s something inevitable about it

It’s 1966.
I live on the Greek island, Hydra.
I am surrounded by beauty, simplicity.
I have learnt to play flamenco guitar.
I have taken lots of drugs.
I have had women falling at my feet.
I sing in a monotone.
I live in a haze.
I’m the king of deadpan.
I write about Canada and the Church and the wiping out of Cultures.
I Write Pages of Words Beginning With Capital Letters.
I write about cocks until my fingers bleed.
I write about women and desire.
I can get into character anywhere.
Darling, I was born in a suit.

It’s 1994.
I’m meditating.
I want to retreat and I’ve surrendered.
I’ll stay here for years.
I have taken lots of drugs.
I can be anywhere I want, man.
I’ll project back and forth in time.
Phil Spector threatens me with a crossbow
‘Hallelujah’ becomes the song of a generation but not mine.
I don’t know whether I know.
That four lines from my song ‘Anthem’.
Are four of the most beautiful in the English language.

It’s 2008.
I’m on a hill in the Hunter Valley.
I’m performing in a vineyard but I’m not drinking.
I’ve taken lots of drugs.
But I can see clearly tonight.
The stars are bright looking out.
But there’s someone about to start grieving.
I can see her in the audience.
She is lying down with her head gentle on the grass.
She is thinking about death and souls.
She is remembering how many words she knows.
So she sings them out loud with me.
To her baby who is at his first gig.
Who refuses to close his eyes.
Even as she dances with him all night in her arms.

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

Leonard Cohen has written songs, poetry and novels. Beautiful Losers is a hell of a ride. I think his voice is better now with its gravel edge. When I was a kid, a family member was obsessed with him (you know who you are) and, every chance she got at the dinner table, would affect this weird nasally voice and embark on dreadful lamentations. I always rolled my eyes; it’s so embarrassing when adults think their music is cool.

And then, damn it, Leonard Cohen did get cool.

Let’s check out who my cohorts wanted to be for a day:




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  3. angelasavage August 28, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Gorgeous post, Kirsten. You do Leonard Cohen proud.

    1. Kirsten Krauth August 29, 2013 at 11:22 am

      Thanks, Angela. I do greatly admire him. Would love to meet him one day.

  4. rashidamurphy August 28, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Oh, yes, Kirsten, a thousand kisses deep, I love the man too and read him obsessively and go to his gentlemanly concerts where he doffs his hat and looks genuinely surprised to see so many people there and thanks them graciously….
    Good choice! (I wondered about being Patrick Suskind for a day, then shivered quietly, thinking there’s no way I could have written the gruesomely groovy Perfume!)

    1. Kirsten Krauth August 29, 2013 at 11:23 am

      Thanks! I think you should definitely try to be Patrick for a day – and let us know the results!

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  8. Debbie Robson September 3, 2013 at 8:42 am

    I’d love to be there in Greece too as Charmian Clift. Isn’t it rumoured she had a brief affair with Cohen?

    1. Kirsten Krauth September 3, 2013 at 1:28 pm

      Really? I don’t know much about her and haven’t read her books, but her name keeps cropping up everywhere. Man, so many books!

      1. Debbie Robson September 4, 2013 at 9:12 pm

        Yes, she’s really interesting! So many books, so little time, lol!

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