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Poet Leonard Cohen splashes on to world stage at 22

The Story

Born to a wealthy Jewish family in the Westmount neighbourhood of Montreal, Leonard Cohen had a comfortable upbringing. His father, a successful businessman, died when Cohen was nine but he enjoyed a close relationship with his mother. Cohen began writing seriously at McGill University and was part of the bohemian literary scene in Montreal. He was only 22, still an undergrad at McGill, when he raised eyebrows with his first collection of poetry, Let Us Compare Mythologies (1956). Five years later he catapulted to international fame with The Spice-Box of Earth (1961), his second collection of poetry.Cohen performed two poems, Twelve O'Clock Chant and Out of the Land of Heaven (for Marc Chagall) from that collection on CBC in 1958.

Medium: Radio
Program: Anthology
Broadcast Date: April 22, 1958
Performer: Leonard Cohen
Duration: 3:12

Did You know?

• "Leonard Cohen began as a burnt-out writer." Saskatchewan poet Eli Mandel upon encountering a 19-year-old Cohen.

• Leonard Cohen's maternal grandfather was a writer and published a Hebrew dictionary called Lexicon of Hebrew Homonyms.


Leonard Cohen: Canada's Melancholy Bard more