Catullus & Cohen

Poetry was released in me and from me by Catullus & Cohen. I was about 17 years old when I discovered an uncensored copy of Catullus in my High School library. I imagine Mr. Whealan (now nearly 50 years later I am uncertain how his name was spelled) my grades 11,12 and 13 Latin teacher with a secret smile knowing he had pulled one over on the puritanical educational bureaucrats.

Catullus led me to perusing the poetry section of the Classics Book shop in downtown Windsor, Ontario. There I spent some of my rare cash on two poets: Leonard Cohen and Margaret Atwood. Despite her present status as ‘the’ shining light in the firmament of Canadian Literature, her poems left me uninterested. 

Ahhh but Leonard Cohen’s words! Catullus reborn as a Canadian. Much lighter on the sexuality and no scatology, but the essence of the two resonated in a dance of recognition.

Decades later I returned to writing poetry with a copy of the collected works of each on my desk. Catullus unexpurgated as is improperly proper and Cohen’s collected works 1956-1968.


2 thoughts on “Catullus & Cohen

    1. I thought his poetry group was in the 70s and 80s? I know it wasn’t in the 60s and she had her first novel out in 1969 – The Edible Woman and had several poetry collections published early in the 60s. She won the 1966 Governor General’s award for poetry with the Circle Game. I bought her ‘The Animals in that Country’ in 1968 but didn’t like it.

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