It's hard not to love Robbie Burns Day. People carouse with fake Scottish accents, and haggis and bagpipes are not only present, they're lauded. People might veer away from such things for most of year, but on January 25, they'll allow themselves the indulgence of something different. I could also argue that people like the indulgence of a little tradition: it's nice to know that there's a day set aside purely for low-tech, old-fashioned merry-making.
Wouldn't it be great if there was a day like that for Canada's most famous poet, as well?
There's a problem with that, though -- for most good-hearted people, the idea of discussing Canadian poetry is far more unappealing than bagpipes and haggis. Chances are, they won't stick around long enough to ask, "Which poet?"
That's too bad for them, because the answer is Leonard Cohen.
Some brave souls reached that conclusion a few years ago, and ever since then, Leonard Cohen Night has been gaining popularity. In Edmonton, there's going to be an art exhibit, an open mike for any and all poets, and finally, an evening concert where local artists sing his songs.
This is probably where some people would ask, "So, if it's like a Canadian Celebration, does that mean we can get plastered there?"
Sadly enough, they've got a point. Robbie Burns Day is a whooping, roaring party. Leonard Cohen Night is a dry grad in comparison. Will it ever be popular enough to really take off? Because I'm an eternal optimist, I wager it will, and here's why...
Behold, ladies and gentlemen, the only time I shall ever post a photo from the Emmys on this website. That dapper gentleman right there is none other than Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder and geek extraordinaire. He looks powerful and confident. He's got his act together. And he's wearing a really nice suit.
I would argue that Woz there doesn't look this good in a T-shirt.
That's the magic thing about Leonard Cohen: He's an incredible poet, true. He's a national treasure, undoubtedly. But he's also able to put together style and class, truth and beauty, the public and the private... and he can hold all those things in that critical balance which gives him a grace unequalled. It's the crowning achievement of a poet, to be as noble as a lord yet as wise as a monk. He always bears himself like he's wearing that suit, and he can bring you to that same special level.
That grace is a rare thing in this world, and it's something that deserves celebrating.
So, even if there aren't any Leonard Cohen festivities in your town this Friday night, throw one of his recordings onto the CD player, open a bottle of wine with some friends, and raise a toast to the man who teaches us not to fear our own potential.
One might even say he sees our perfect bodies with his mind.