What do you see when you look at Leonard Cohen? He is a celebrity in the internet age – in part because of the many cover versions of his songs – but his career straddles a wide array of cultural milieus and creative venues. In France he joins the tradition of the chansons; in Poland his work contributed to an underground culture of resistance against the communist government. He began as a poet in the lyric mode, under the tutelage of Montreal modernists, publishing paeans to “his lady,” whether she be Anne or Marita or Marianne. As early as 1958 he appeared on the CBC Radio program Anthology, setting his work to guitar accompaniment. In 1963 he published a Montreal-saturated Bildungsroman – the sweetly poetic first novel, The Favourite Game. Soon afterward he found an edgier voice – one more attuned to popular culture, European history, and the legacy of colonialism in his poetry volume Flowers for Hitler and in his great, provocative second novel, Beautiful Losers. Then the influential music executive John Hammond signed him to Columbia Records, linking Cohen’s early output, on such records as Songs of Leonard Cohen and Songs from a Room, with Columbia cohorts Bob Dylan, Benny Goodman, and Aretha Franklin.

The above is an excerpt from the introduction by Norman Ravvin

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The Porcupine's Quill edition is typeset in Adobe Jenson. Printed on acid-free Zephyr Antique laid. Smyth sewn into sixteen page signatures with hand-tipped endleaves, front and back.

EAN-13: 9780889843752

Publication Date:

2014-09-01

Dimensions:

8.75 in x 5.56 in

Pages: 192

Price: $22.95

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The human mind is a kind of wild ox bull. The Zen master, the poet, the artist, the graphic novelist, all can impart wisdom, means, and materials to tame its primal nature. Art allows the patient, attentive student to change their perceptions of reality and their places in it. Cohen’s journey over the course of his life, described in these wood engravings, can be a chart to guide us as we struggle on our own long walks to achieve our true natures.

The above excerpt is from the Afterword by
Tom Smart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Created: 2014
Medium: 80 wood engravings hand printed on 250 gm Rising Stonehenge 100% rag archival paper and comes fully bound in cloth with a clamshell protective box.
Book size: 6¼" X 8" X 2½" (232 pages printed recto)
Edition size: 80 copies signed and numbered
(Leonard Cohen will be 80 years old on September 21, 2014)

The book is housed in a clam shell box made from the finest quality materials. Written in a xylography of pictures the book is accessible to readers of many languages.

In his latest wordless biography, master engraver George A. Walker presents a series of 80 wood engravings celebrating the 80th birthday of one of Canada’s most beloved cultural icons. The Wordless Leonard Cohen Songbook commemorates Cohen’s artistic accomplishments and explores the ways in which the image of Leonard Cohen has appeared in popular culture for a career spanning over six decades.

Arranged chronologically, the engravings depict scenes from Cohen’s many and varied creative endeavours, including poetry, novels, singing and songwriting. The book also presents portraits of some of the many famous characters who shared Cohen’s life and friendship, from poets Irving Layton and Allan Ginsberg, to musicians Jimmy Hendrix and Janis Joplin, to celebrated artist Andy Warhol. Readers are invited to bring their own associations to bear in interpreting the the significance of the scenes and the people depicted therein.

The Wordless Leonard Cohen Songbook takes as its inspiration not only Cohen’s own poems, novels and songs, but also other sources, from biographies about the Canadian icon to short anecdotes relayed at a concert. In his images, Walker strives to communicate the importance of Cohen’s Zen Buddhist philosophy and plays with numerology, particularly the symbolism behind the number 8. Readers are encouraged to seek relationships between engraving numbers, sequences, and visual elements.

The Wordless Leonard Cohen Songbook originated as a limited edition of 80 copies hand printed in Walker’s studio in Leslieville, Toronto.

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Reviews, Articles, Quotes, Endorsements:

[Praise for The Life and Times of Conrad Black]
'Woodcut engraving is a demanding form, one that reduces images to a rudimentary boldness where everything depends on the contrast between black and white. Yet in Walker’s sure hands, these bluntly hewn images convey the full mystery of Conrad Black: his intelligence and his foolishness, his love of the glamorous spotlight and his reserve, his crudeness and his decorum. Whatever else you want to say about Conrad Black, he’s a complicated character. In this suite of drawings, Walker has done justice to Black’s complexity. Without using a word, Walker’s images give voice to the inner Black.’
—Jeet Heer, The Globe and Mail

[Praise for The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson]
The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson (Porcupine’s Quill), a graphic biography of Canada’s most mythic painter, is a masterpiece of both creation and reproduction. George A Walker’s series of more than a hundred woodblock prints moves beyond pure homage; it recasts surviving photographs of the artist with Thomson’s own manic paintings while also introducing searing new images. Virtually nothing is known about Thomson’s violent death, but Walker’s haunting depictions of the event are so striking that they seem to come from some morbid photographic source. The simplicity of the woodblock medium can make the narrative difficult to follow, but this turns out to be Walker’s great strength. He challenges his reader with a poetic ambiguity that makes for an active, rewarding read.’
Maisonneuve

[Praise for Book of Hours]
‘Walker has summoned the retrospective tension that exists for many after greeting the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 without a specific regard to personal safety, terrorism, or the rupture of simple daily ritual.’
—Rachel Farquharson, Huffington Post


‘George A. Walker, the talented wood engraver and ‘‘book artist’’, has composed The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson in 109 woodblock engravings presented in a handsome volume by Porcupine’s Quill. While reading Walker’s wordless narrative, one becomes eerily aware of silence: wordlessness itself becomes a mode of silence, and an agent of voiceless voicing, unheard dialogue and mute interrogation. In fact, it’s not easy to use words to describe what happens once you are engaged in this sequence of woodblock images: events proceed: a man, Tom Thomson, emerges as an increasingly solitary figure, slowly withdrawing from urbanity and emerging in the wilderness, where, as different versions have it (and Walker’s is one of them), he meets his fate. The effect of the wordless imagery is strangely acoustic: a silence filled with echoes. The book does not want to be put down; instead the reader, the observer, re-engages again and again, returning to read into the images a story that eludes understanding just as understanding seems to elude stories without words. This is a book for the shade on a bright summer day.’
Mandelbrot, Geist

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THE PROCESS

Each image is drawn in reverse onto a piece of endgrain Canadian Maple and then inked in with pen and brush before the enngraving process begins.The blocks are then engraved with spitstickers, scorpers and lining tools and readied for the press and first test proofs.

 

After preparing the block the image is pencilled and then inked before engraving.

All the areas that are not inked are engraved.

The Blocks are proofed on a Vandercook SP15 proof press.

The title page engraving and the lead type are locked into the press for printing.

Proofs are sorted and arranged in their order before being printed.

After hand-sewng the books are cased in Japanese Asahi bookcloth