THE FLAME - Reviews

Everything about Leonard Cohen's new book
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THE FLAME - Reviews

Postby MarieM » Tue Sep 04, 2018 9:36 pm

https://www.vogue.com/article/best-new-books-fall-2018
Vogue

17 New Books You Won’t Want to Miss This Fall
SEPTEMBER 3, 2018 8:00 AM
by CHLOE SCHAMA

Leonard Cohen, The Flame (October)


If you felt Leonard Cohen’s death in 2016 as a personal assault, this book is a posthumous balm: a collection of previously unpublished poems, lyrics, and sketches. All of Cohen’s work has a raw, straight-to-the-heart intensity—reach for this the next time you need inspiration for a wedding toast that will leave them gutted, or any other moment you need a little sustenance for the soul. —C.S.
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Re: THE FLAME - Reviews

Postby MarieM » Fri Sep 14, 2018 2:53 am

The first review of The Flame from Booklist is a starred review.

https://www.booklistonline.com/The-Flam ... id=9707570
Leonard Cohen had a final wish: he wanted enough time to put his affairs in order and assemble a final collection of his last works. Thus, The Flame contains lyrics from his last three albums, including the critically acclaimed You Want It Darker—released several weeks before his death, at age 82, on November 7, 2016—as well as poems, excerpts from his notebooks, and drawings. Among his last song lyrics is the poignant “Happens to the Heart.” Cohen writes, “I was working steady, but I never called it art.” His topics will be familiar to anyone who knows Cohen’s work: loneliness, faith (Cohen was a self-proclaimed observant Jew who had a long association with Buddhism), gratitude, the essential brokenness of the human spirit, and, of course, love—always love and its numerous manifestations. As the days become shorter, Cohen prays for courage “to greet the sickness / And the cold” and, ultimately, to see death as a “friend.” Poignant and brave, lit up with flashes of anger, this is a luminous collection and classic Cohen.

— June Sawyers
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Re: THE FLAME - Reviews

Postby jarkko » Tue Sep 25, 2018 8:20 am

Summary of recent and upcoming publicity:
Adam Cohen, Leonard Cohen's son, will be interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air on October 4

The Flame receives a starred review in the October issue of Booklist:
"Poignant and brave, lit up with flashes of anger, this is a luminous collection and classic Cohen."

Leonard Cohen's poem "Drank a Lot" is featured in the September 24 issue of The New Yorker.

The Flame is "required reading" in the October issue of Esquire.

And Leonard Cohen superfans have been energized to post about the book on national and international fan sites and social media.

Upcoming coverage includes:
Amtrak's The National
Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews
New York Review of Books
The Hudson Review
Jewish Book Council
Vanity Fair *)
Compiled by Publicity Assistant Alexis Nowicki at Farrar, Straus and Giroux

*) Vanity Fair: see next post
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Re: THE FLAME - Reviews

Postby jarkko » Tue Sep 25, 2018 8:25 am

https://www.vanityfair.com/style/photos ... -this-fall

VANITY FAIR
Books

11 Nonfiction Books to Read This Fall
by Julia Vitale Keziah Weir
September 24, 2018 3:30 pm

Notable authors Michael Lewis, Jonathan Franzen, and Yuval Noah Harari all have books out this fall; and for a little lightness, there’s Leonard Cohen’s posthumous collection of poems and notes.

The Flame: Poems Notebooks Lyrics Drawings by Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen’s posthumous The Flame (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux) opens with “Happens to the Heart,” a poem written in the last year of his life. “I was always working steady / But I never called it art / I was funding my depression / Meeting Jesus reading Marx,” it begins. Cohen, whose awards are too numerous to mention at length, but include accolades ranging from the 2011 Glenn Gould Prize to a posthumous 2018 Grammy for best rock performance for “You Want It Darker,” died at the age of 82 the night before the 2016 presidential election. A few weeks before, he’d told a reporter he was “ready to go,” but was planning to put together the book that became The Flame—a compilation of poems and song lyrics alongside illustrations and select entries from his journals—before he did. Fans will be moved by the intimate look inside the brain of the legendary (and multi-talented) songwriter. (Amazon.com)
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Re: THE FLAME - Reviews

Postby jarkko » Wed Oct 03, 2018 8:32 am

https://nowtoronto.com/culture/books/le ... ak.twitter
Toronto NOW

Leonard Cohen is as elusive as ever in his final poetry book
Posthumously released collection The Flame finds the music icon sharply critiquing a culture that disappointed him

BY SARAH MACDONALD
OCTOBER 2, 2018

In The Flame: Poems And Selections From Notebooks (McClelland & Stewart, $32.95), the late singer/songwriter, poet and novelist’s last book of poetry, lyrics and miscellaneous notes, he emphatically writes that West is not an artistic giant, like Picasso. “I am Picasso,” he writes in Kanye West Is Not Picasso, before adding “I am Edison / I am Tesla.” It’s a bold move – triumphant. Profound, even. To make Kanye’s greatness smaller, Cohen made himself bigger. He has the bigger ego. I almost believe him.

You can picture Cohen living in Los Angeles, not far from West, seriously contemplating the once visionary rapper who, today especially, wreaks havoc on the culture.

Kanye West is not even the Kanye West he believes he is, Cohen tells us. “I am the Kanye West of Kanye West / The Kanye West / Of the great bogus shift of bullshit culture.” While Cohen has been dubbed the “godfather of gloom,” the kind of introspective writer who toiled in pain purposefully, he still – and always – had sharp thoughts about the culture around him, evolving as he grew old. This poem is, curiously, perhaps not unlike Patti Smith’s Instagram posts: a legendary literary figure and musician who meticulously inspects popular culture and infuses a voice of concern or tenderness upon it. The poem Kanye West Is Not Picasso exemplifies the attention Cohen paid to the world around him – and how it disappointed him so.

The Flame is a hard read for a Cohen fan. He died on November 7, 2016 at 82. He released his last, critically acclaimed album, You Want It Darker, just a few weeks before. He was the subject of a massive New Yorker profile by David Remnick in those weeks, too, which was Cohen’s last journalistic imprint on the world – and what we thought was the last chance to read his voice in print. And then he was gone. For a man who dedicated his work to the grim ennui of life and death, that he is in fact really gone is too silly of a thing to say. It still feels like a joke that death finally got our man.

Cohen gathered these selections of poems before he died. They don’t have a chronology (the Kanye West poem is dated March 15, 2015, for example) but his editors and his son, Adam, tried to arrange them how Cohen would have wanted. (A posthumous album is also due in 2019.) The book includes hundreds of illustrations found among the notes Cohen left behind. Often these self-portraits, which look like quick sketches, show a man aging rapidly and observing – albeit imprecisely – how his life has unfolded and what he has done with it. Perhaps the drawings reflect how Cohen saw himself, and they suggest a person can never truly draw an accurate self-portrait.
Similarly, poetry doesn’t always provide true clarity. It’s not immediately apparent from the text what Cohen’s last years and moments were like. You can infer, project and even hope you know, but the clever Montrealer won’t make it easy for you here.

Many of Cohen’s poems throughout his lengthy literary career, and especially in this last collection, reckon with mortality in a visceral way. The last third of the book contains scattered notes, unfinished poems, thoughts and concerns. This section provides a glimpse into Cohen’s innermost anxieties. His work was always concerned with a specific kind of honesty – about sex, love, despair, religion – but it still always felt like he held back, protected behind an invisible barrier. These notes and poems are exhaustive, with dozens of pages reading like run-on sentences, zipping through a stream of consciousness that spanned decades, not just his final years.

The Flame is effective and familiar. Even the unfinished work lands well. Cohen’s last text message on November 6 is included. “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” It’s a line from the Bible, and so specifically Leonard Cohen that it’s devastating.
Links to this and the next reviews were provided by Marie!!
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Re: THE FLAME - Reviews

Postby jarkko » Wed Oct 03, 2018 8:37 am

https://bookpage.com/reviews/23196-leon ... 7QzTs5Ki70

BookPage

BOOK REVIEWS
The Flame
Leonard Cohen

BookPage review by the editors of BookPage
Web Exclusive – October 02, 2018


When Leonard Cohen died on November 6, 2016, he left behind the writing that had consumed him in his final years, as well as a trove of journals and drawings. Collected here, this final body of work, including lyrics from his last three albums, offers a window onto the mind of one of the 20th century’s great artists, whose songs and words have helped generations of listeners and readers articulate meaning.

Cohen lived an extraordinary and turbulent life. In the period that begat many of the poems collected here, he was in poor health and significant pain. What the book captures, his son Adam writes in a foreword, was an effort, in part, to relieve suffering, as well as a ruthless dedication to writing. “Writing was his reason for being,” Adam Cohen notes. “It was the fire he was tending to, the most significant flame he fueled. It was never extinguished.”

Steeped in somber reckoning, The Flame takes the long view that only age affords. Cohen’s appraisal is unsparing; many of his poems carry an abiding tone of remorse and acknowledgment of debt and error and the torment lovers can cause one another. “No time to change / The backward look / It’s much too late / My gentle book,” he writes. But passion is such torment’s twin or genesis, and that fiery emotion is likewise constantly on stage; one hears the resonant notes of countless love affairs in these poems. Every so often, there’s a pleasing flicker of humor, a self-deprecating nod. In “Kanye West Is Not Picasso,” Cohen writes, “I am the real Kanye West / I don’t get around much anymore / I never have / I only come alive after a war / And we have not had it yet.”

Sprinkled with Cohen’s self-portrait sketches, The Flame is full of gestures so intimate it’s almost a voyeuristic experience. But that, of course, is one of the squeamish pleasures of a writer’s published notebooks: you can’t be certain that what is here was meant for you, or not quite in this way. It’s not that The Flame in any way seems a breach of privacy; indeed, it is, as his son writes, nothing less than “what he was staying alive to do, his sole breathing purpose at the end.” Cohen apparently focused on little other than the preparation of this book near the end of his life. Still, even if intentionally so, the work feels both like a final speech and a disrobing. In perusing the sizeable volume, one can’t help but feel privy to something raw and shining, both uncomfortably and movingly revealing, the final laying-bare of a unique chronicler of the human heart.
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Re: THE FLAME - Reviews

Postby jarkko » Wed Oct 03, 2018 8:38 am

https://www.pendoramagazine.com/book-re ... nard-cohen
Pendora Magazine

BOOK REVIEW: THE FLAME BY LEONARD COHEN
ELISA SABBADINOCTOBER 2, 2018



“You want it darker,” sang Leonard Cohen in his last album, released three weeks before his death, “we kill the flame.” And now The Flame is here. With a foreword by his son Adam, who produced 2016’s You Want It Darker, The Flame is Cohen’s ninth and last collection of poetry. Adam notes that this was Cohen’s final project, “what he was staying alive to do, his sole breathing purpose at the end.” Despite being unable to see it to completion and publication, Leonard Cohen offers in The Flame a collection of writing that stands proudly at the end of his body of work, which spans over six decades and includes fourteen studio albums, two novels, and nine poetry collections.

The book opens with Adam Cohen’s foreword and a note from editors Robert Faggen and Alexandra Pleshoyano. While Adam’s is a personal note that highlights not only Cohen’s dedication to this work but the deep and lasting devotion to writing, the editorial note offers interesting insight into how the collection came together. The first section of the book is titled “Poems” and is made up of sixty-three poems that Cohen considered finished works. What follows this conventional part of the collection is the section titled “Lyrics”, which includes the lyrics to his albums Old Ideas, Popular Problems, and You Want It Darker, as well as his lyrics for Anjani Thomas’ album Blue Alert. Some of these have appeared in his previous collection Book of Longing, and others appear here with some variation to the album versions. The third section consists of selections from his notebooks and includes pages from his notebooks chosen by the poet himself for publication here. Written and rewritten over several decades, while all in verse, these pages are hard to separate into individual poems. Some of them include a date and location, but on several occasions a poem will seem to go on for pages on end with no indication of its journey. Between the “Lyrics” and the “Notebooks” there are two pages that show Leonard’s brief email exchange with his friend and poet Peter Scott about Scott’s poetry collection Walking on Darkness, and an email he sent Rebecca De Mornay just hours before he died. The book’s closer is Cohen’s acceptance speech of the Prince of Asturias Award.

As Adam points out, Cohen’s works figure certain recurring words and themes, among which those of fire and flame. Cohen plays around them in The Flame as well, accompanying the images to more or less subtle, but always subtly humorous, considerations on death, love, desire, ageing, fame, beauty, and faith. Ageing is especially mentioned, contributing to an underlying sense of the poet wrapping up his life and looking at his career as a whole.
“I am trying to finish
My shabby career
With a little truth
In the now and here”

— LEONARD COHEN, “IF I TOOK A PILL”

Because of this, Cohen’s poems emerge in The Flame as compelling, mingling all the different mentioned themes with a sense of urgency that lurks just beyond their lightness and somewhat self-deprecating humour. It’s a balance that Cohen has always navigated well, that between seriousness and playfulness, intensity and lightness. His person seeps through the lines and results from these contrasts as incredibly humble, intelligent, and ever surprising, as in these lines from “I Can’t Take It Anymore”:
“O apple of the world
we weren’t married on the surface
we were married at the core
I can’t take it anymore”

— LEONARD COHEN, “I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE”

When asked in an interview about the difference between a song and a poem, Cohen replied that “a poem has a different time. It doesn’t have a driving tempo – in other words, you can go back and forward, you can come back, you can linger. Whereas with a song you got a tempo, you’ve got something that’s moving swiftly, you can’t stop it. And it’s designed to move swiftly.”

In The Flame however, it is sometimes hard to distinguish between poems and lyrics. They tend to have the same structures. Often very musical 6, 8 line stanzas in iambic verse, rhymes or half rhymes as ABCB (or with 8 lines, something similar with variants). There’s a lot of repetition too, as in the first poem, “What Happens to the Heart” – the last line repetition as employed in “A Thousand Kisses Deep” from Book of Longing. In the notebooks’ section there is more free verse and experimentation, as well as very short poems, or snippets of unrealised poems. These can be as short as two or three lines, or feature just one word per line. He keeps the playfulness of not abiding by the rules any time he wants, but his best works have that familiar form, 6 or 8 verses with some rhyme scheme, similar to his songs. There are instances of such poems even in the notebooks, and the musicality of the lines suggests the possibility of a song being born from those lines.

As was the case with Book of Longing, The Flame features drawings and self-portraits of Cohen, some of them accompanied by notes or short verses. The collection is eclectic but with a strong sense of unity, both poems and illustrations resonating with the themes and forms of his body of work – different styles but with the same features and focus. Leonard Cohen built a dedicated following by writing and singing about longing, love, desire, loss, ageing, and death looking for a deeper understanding of these conditions. The Flame is a work of moving intimacy, a touching final offering of a writer who was devoted to his art until the very end.
“He died on November 7, 2016. It feels darker now, but the flame was not killed.”
— ADAM COHEN (FOREWORD TO THE FLAME)
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Re: THE FLAME - Reviews

Postby jarkko » Wed Oct 03, 2018 8:42 am

LA Review of Books
https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/a-s ... -aged-man/#!
A Self-Portrait of the Artist as an Aged Man
By Shoshana Olidort


OCTOBER 2, 2018
AMONG THE SUNDRY ITEMS decorating the refrigerator door in our modest, Stanford student housing unit is a ticket from a Leonard Cohen concert in Barclays Center, Brooklyn, dated December 20, 2012. I’m not sure how the ticket survived multiple moves (including one across country with two small kids in tow), and I’m not sure who put it up on the fridge, or when, but when I notice it, every so often, in passing, I think of that unforgettable night, when, for four surreal hours, I sat along with thousands of others, a rapt audience entranced by the magic of a man by then quite old, even sickly, who saw himself, and was seen by so many, as a modern-day prophet.

In a 2002 diary entry that appears in the newly released, posthumous collection The Flame: Poems Notebooks Lyrics Drawings, Cohen writes, “I swear / strive to complete / before it’s too late / some mission from G-d / I can’t even locate.” Though we tend to think of self-proclaimed prophets as egomaniacs, Cohen’s work evinces a different kind of prophetic stance, one marked by humility and an eagerness to carry out someone else’s bidding, to fulfill a mission he “can’t even locate.”

Cohen, who started out as a poet and published four books of poetry and a novel before launching his musical career in the 1960s, spent the months leading up to his death in November 2016 completing what he knew would be his final manuscript. While the quality of the poetry in this book is sometimes uneven, it’s clear that Cohen remained sharp until the very end, and the book, a kind of farewell tribute by the poet-prophet, offers ample evidence of his abiding sense of humor. To wit, these excerpts from a diary entry included in the book: “I think, therefore I am / right up there with / Mary had a Little Lamb,” and, “I don’t care much for the movie / but the popcorn is unsurpassed.”

But as a whole this volume’s register is one of pathos, the kind expressed in “My Career,” which reads: “So little to say / So urgent / to say it.” This sense of urgency, combined with an awareness of the fact that, despite a lifetime devoted to the written (and spoken) word, there was “so little to say,” runs through this book. These two seemingly contradictory sentiments come together in Cohen’s words and images, his simple black illustrations, many of them self-portraits of the aged singer, providing a visual commentary on the accompanying texts.

The passage of time is another recurring motif in this book, but Cohen’s is no simple reflection on the past. In “School Days,” Cohen writes, “I never think about The Past / but sometimes / The Past thinks about me / and sits down / ever so lightly on my face—” One can’t help but marvel at the poet’s brilliant maneuvering here. In the first instance, his use of the capitalized term “The Past” calls upon a sense of the past as rigid and unchangeable. But Cohen surprises us in this totally unexpected way when he subverts that very rigidity by showing us how the past can be turned into a thing apart, which may sit with us — even on us — “ever so lightly,” but need not rule our lives.

Toward the end of his life, Cohen’s songs, already dark, grew darker. Cohen’s preoccupation with mortality is brought into sharp relief in songs like “You Want It Darker,” whose lyrics (along with those from his final three albums) are included in this book. Approaching death, the song’s narrator lays out his cards: “If you are the dealer / I’m out of the game / If you are the healer / it means I’m broken and lame…” The song’s refrain, “Hineni Hineni / I’m ready, my Lord,” is a reference to Genesis with its stories of submission to an omnipotent and all-knowing God, whose call to Adam, Cain, Abraham, Moses, among other key figures in the Hebrew bible, elicits the response “Hineni,” meaning literally “here I am.”

Just weeks before he died, Cohen emailed the poet Peter Dale Scott, who had recently sent him a copy of his collection of poems, Walking on Darkness, with the inscription: “If you want it darker / This book is not for you / I have always wanted it lighter / And I think God does too.” What ensued was an email exchange about darkness, which is included in this book. Responding to Scott’s inscription, Cohen writes: “who says ’i’ want it darker? / who says the ’you’ is me? […] he will make it darker / he will make it light / according to his torah / which leonard did not write.” Here, the self-effacing prophet defers to God and the Torah that, while Leonard might transmit, “leonard did not write,” and which he “can’t even locate.”

More than his musical or poetic talent, what endeared Cohen to fans was an earnestness so rarely seen among the famous. While Oscar Wilde may have been onto something when he famously asserted that “[a]ll bad poetry springs from genuine feeling,” it would be ludicrous to conclude from this that genuine feeling necessarily begets bad poetry. Cohen managed to communicate his earnestness through songs and poetry to a worldwide fanbase, and many tributes to the artist published after his death pointed to the way that his songs seemed to speak directly to his listeners.

In 2011, Cohen was awarded Spain’s Prince of Asturias Award for literature. In his acceptance speech, which appears in full in this book, Cohen insisted, “Poetry comes from a place that no one commands and no one conquers.” He went on to explain that he felt “somewhat like a charlatan to accept an award for an activity which I do not command.”

Whether or not he could command his poetry, Cohen proved adept at commanding an audience. When a financial crisis (resulting from a manager swindling him of his life’s earnings) drove Cohen to conduct world tours in the final decade of his life, he rose to the occasion.

Watching him perform on that winter evening in Brooklyn, nearly six years ago, I was struck most of all by Cohen’s presence — prophet-like in his ubiquitous gray-black fedora, kneeling as if in deference to his audience.
“Since I no longer wish to explain myself / I have become a stone / Since I no longer long for anyone / I am not alone,” writes Cohen in another diary entry excerpted in this book. For Cohen, who never relished fame or fortune, prophecy was about transcendence. Though he claimed not to know the origins of his poetry nor to be able to locate his mission, what Cohen offered his many fans and followers was the opportunity to partake of the kind of spiritual experience that makes it possible for us to feel, if only for a moment, that we are not alone.

---

Shoshana Olidort is a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at Stanford University. Her research focuses on poetry as a mode of performing identity through a consideration of five 20th-century Jewish women poets.
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Re: THE FLAME - Reviews

Postby jarkko » Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:20 pm

https://inews.co.uk/culture/books/the-f ... view-book/
I News, UK

The Flame by Leonard Cohen, review: an intricate exploration of the human heart
by Anita Sethi

Thursday October 4th 2018

“Writing was his reason for being. It was the fire he was tending to, the most significant flame he fuelled. It was never extinguished”, writes Leonard Cohen’s son, Adam, in the moving foreword to this fiercely brilliant posthumous collection of the great singer-songwriter and poet’s writings, which he collated himself in the final months of his life.

The Flame provides fascinating insight into Cohen’s unique talent through a selection of poems, lyrics, illustrations and prose pieces, including those drawn from a trove of unpublished work and the notebooks he kept on a daily basis from his teenage years until the last day of his life.

So dedicated was Cohen to the craft of writing that he would work on his words for years before publishing them, filling pages with exquisite musings on life and death; his son recalls finding notebooks in all manner of places, including in the freezer.

Although Cohen gained global acclaim as a singer-songwriter, his core vocation, says his son, was as a poet. His first book of poetry, Let Us Compare Mythologies, published in 1956, was followed by 12 more books, including two novels.

This final book became “his sole breathing purpose at the end”, and compiling it before he died two years ago was no mean feat. He would rigorously meditate to “focus his mind through the acute pain of multiple compression fractures and the weakening of his body”.

The image of the flame flickers throughout this collection: “sometimes the light of a firefly, sometimes the light of a furnace”, as he writes in his notebooks. Cohen was also adept at depicting darkness; a time when “every guiding light was gone”, and “the hundred thousand darknesses / that go around insisting / they’re my heart”. Indeed, his final album was titled You Want it Darker, the meaning of which he discussed in one of his last email exchanges with a friend, included here.

Cohen tunnelled through the darkness until he found light within it. Along the way he laid bare the brokenness of being human – and how to bear it – with his famous acknowledgement that: “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

The entire collection is an intricate exploration of the happenings of the human heart, infused with Cohen’s signature themes of longing, love and loss. If the emotional range is astonishing, the geographical reach is wide, too, for Cohen was a great chronicler of place. He ranges from winter on Mount Baldy in California to the lift of the Manchester Malmaison Hotel.

“I hungered for a voice,” Cohen said in his acceptance speech for the Prince of Asturias Award in Spain in 2011, here reprinted. In it, he speaks powerfully about discovering his voice and how it was reading the Spanish poet Lorca that helped him to do so; Lorca, he says, “gave me permission to… locate a self, a self that is not fixed, a self that struggles for its own existence”.

Some of the pages of this beautifully designed book feature Cohen’s elegant handwriting. “Nothing gets me high and offers relief from the suffering like blackening pages, writing,” he revealed.

The Flame shows the great power of words to endure long after the person who has written them has passed away, and to offer relief from suffering and elevate the spirits – not only for the writer, but for the reader and listener, too.
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Re: THE FLAME - Reviews

Postby jarkko » Fri Oct 05, 2018 2:43 pm

https://www.standard.co.uk/comment/comm ... 54476.html

Evening Standard
Ain’t no cure for the love I have for Leonard Cohen, my poet laureate
JOY LO DICO


October 5, 2018
Leonard Cohen returns every so often to my side, like a long-lost friend. He was, by chance, my companion on my morning walk to work yesterday, earphones in for another waltz through the I’m Your Man album.

That a posthumous book of his poetry was being published this week had strangely passed me by until after I arrived at my desk.

The Flame was compiled by Cohen in the last months of his life. It’s a collection of his poems and fragments, the Dead Sea Scrolls to his Old, and New Testament.

His son, Adam, explains Cohen always wanted to be thought of as a poet in the book’s foreword.

This was Leonard’s final offering. I found a copy and opened it last night, in veneration of the man, read a few of his verses, but I just had to put it down. However jewel-like each poem was in itself, the words couldn’t sit on the page.

They were calling for a guitar or a choir, aching for music to give them their life. I could imagine the chord progressions pushing them along.

This wasn’t a fallen-heroes moment, where you suddenly wish you hadn’t delved any further than you had. It was simply that these words were static, when in fact Cohen has flowed through the lives of his devotees.

A fanfare about one book release is fleeting, but he is never really off stage. Leonard is there in half-formed thoughts of other times, thoughts of lying in a lover’s bed, or smoking cigarettes with teenage friends. Leonard is there in scratched CDs in your glove compartment, and at moments of crisis when you turn to him to hear the voice of a god-man telling you that heartbreak never ends, but then neither does the hunger to love. When reality has become brittle, he arrives through the crack that appears in it.

For all my searching, I’ve never found God, but thank God I found Leonard.
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Re: THE FLAME - Reviews

Postby jarkko » Fri Oct 05, 2018 3:04 pm

https://www.tagesspiegel.de/kultur/gedi ... 44548.html
Der TagesspiegelKultur:
Gedichtband von Leonard Cohen: Die dunkle Welt brennt lichterloh
04.10.2018, 19:02 Uhr

Troubadour der Liebe und des Untergangs: Zwei Jahre nach seinem Tod erscheint Leonard Cohens Gedichtband „The Flame“.
Gregor Dotzauer


Die poetische Stimme ist ein scheues Ding. Sie besteht nicht allein aus dem, was man gemeinhin Stil nennt, also einer Sprachgestalt, deren Wortverteilung und Satzmuster sich zählen, ordnen und messen lassen, sondern spricht durch sie hindurch. Sie knüpft sich auch nicht unmittelbar an Thema, Rolle und Geschlecht, sondern bildet den nicht imitierbaren Überschuss. Sie ist das, was einen jenseits alles Offensichtlichen anrührt. Ein Ton, der auch im Unvollkommenen hörbar werden kann, während die bloße Virtuosität ins Leere läuft.

Leonard Cohen hat dieser Stimme von Jugend an nachgejagt. Er hat, wie er 2011 in seiner Dankesrede zum Prinz-von-Asturien-Preis für Literatur einmal mehr bekannte, lange erfolglos den großen englischen Dichtern nachgeeifert, sie imitiert, bevor ihm der bedeutendste spanische Dichter des 20. Jahrhunderts die Augen öffnete. „Erst als ich – sogar nur in der Übersetzung – die Werke von Lorca las, verstand ich, was es heißt, eine Stimme zu haben. Es ist nicht so, dass ich seine Stimme nachgeahmt hätte; das würde ich nicht wagen. Aber er gab mir die Erlaubnis, eine Stimme zu finden, eine Stimme auszumachen; und das bedeutet: ein Selbst auszumachen, ein Selbst, das nicht feststand, sondern ein Selbst, das um seine eigene Existenz kämpfte.“

Zwei Jahre nach Cohens Tod erscheint sein lyrisches Testament


Die Rede beschließt den Gedichtband „The Flame“, der dieser Tage, zwei Jahre nach Cohens Tod, weltweit als sein lyrisches Testament erscheint. Und tatsächlich: Was diesem in jeder Hinsicht durchwachsenen Buch seine betörende Einheit verleiht, ist Cohens poetische Stimme. Eine tröstende Düsternis, die nachklingt, wenn man keine einzige Zeile mehr erinnert. Eine kratzbürstige Spottlust, die sich über die eigene Melancholie mokiert. Und eine geradezu übermenschliche Demut, von der man nur angestupst werden muss, damit sie einen mit ihrer ganzen Wucht erfasst.

Dass sich Cohens poetische Stimme unweigerlich mit seiner physischen verbindet, die von einem nasalen Bariton zuletzt zu einem ergreifend sonoren Bass abgesunken war, mag bloße Suggestion sein. Doch auch sie gehört zu einem Schreiben, das jede Faser seines Körpers beanspruchte und so vom Papier aus in die wirkliche Welt zurückfand, wo es im Murmeln des Dichters am Schreibtisch vielleicht sogar begann.

Ein erster Teil von „The Flame“ sammelt letzte und vorletzte, teils jahrzehntealte Gedichte neben tagebuchartigen Schnellschüssen. Ein zweiter Teil präsentiert die Songtexte von „Old Ideas“, „Popular Problems“ und „You Want It Darker“ – sowie diejenigen für das Album „Blue Alert“ seiner Lebensgefährtin Anjani Thomas. Der dritte, mit rund 150 Seiten umfangreichste Teil widmet sich Auszügen aus den Notizbüchern.

Darunter sind auch Kuriositäten wie ein Traum von Tom Waits, den Cohen nach einer eigenen Show in der Garderobe sitzend, aus der Ferne singen hört und ihn um einen rauen musikalischen Kitsch beneidet, der ihm nicht gegeben ist. Cohen im Rohzustand steht also neben Durchgearbeitetem, Liegengebliebenem, Unausgegorenem und schlicht Rätselhaftem. Gerade der Blick in die Werkstatt ist aufregend, weil er zeigt, aus welchen Unwuchten sich manchmal Banalitäten zu erhabenen Gedichten rundeten.

Auf jede Wiederholung folgt eine überraschende Findung

Mit dem Gleichmut einer Poesiemaschine befüllt Cohen die immergleichen Formen. Seine Eingebungen schaukeln und schuckeln am liebsten jambisch vor sich hin, gruppieren sich zu Versquartetten oder Doppelquartetten und folgen dem Reimschema ABCB. Wenn man ihrer auf Dauer nicht überdrüssig wird, dann, weil auf jede Wiederholung eine überraschende Findung kommt – und gelegentlich ein epigrammatischer Volltreffer.

Leonard Cohen wusste genau, dass so manche Strophe auch nach dem zehnten Polieren noch nicht glänzen würde. Doch eben dies bildete den Antrieb seines Kritzelns und Weiterschreibens: Das Material braucht Bewegung! In den Notizbüchern stehen nun halbfertige Zeilen, aus denen er sich später für seinen Song „Feels So Good“ bediente: „I don’t know about tomorrow / but I know what's coming next / I was broken when I met you / I was broken when I left / I couldn’t do it living / but I love you with / my dying breath // I came here for the healing / How about you? / The god of love is broken / the god of hatred too // Every time I touched you / My oh My oh My // That night you let me touch you / I thought that I would die“.

Es findet sich auch völlig Ungeschliffenes: „and you put your baby / number nothing / on the waiting list // and long nights alone / with the Angels of the Lord / I put the books of love aside“. Aus beiden Schnipseln lässt sich indes schon fast der ganze Cohen rekonstruieren: Glück, Gewalt und Elend der irdischen Liebe, die Unzuverlässigkeit der überirdischen, die Sehnsucht nach Berührung und Heilung im Jammertal, die Vermengung des Fleischlichen und des Spirituellen – alles gepaart mit den Zumutungen des Alters. In unterschiedlichen Registern bestimmen diese Motive das ganze Buch.

Cohen bewegt sich nicht in Alpinregionen der Dichtung

Mit trügerischer Eingängigkeit illuminiert eine von Strophe zu Strophe unheimlicher werdende „Maria voll der Gnade“-Anrufung das manichäische Gefüge einer Welt, die sich nicht zum Licht erlösen lassen will: „You step out of the shower / Oh so cool and clean / Smelling like a flower / from a field of green / The world is burning Mary / It’s hollow dark and mean“. Und das eröffnende „Happens To The Heart“, ein grandioses Lebensabschiedsgedicht, warnt jeden angehenden Messias vor der Hoffnung, dass seine Erlösungsmacht ein gutes Ende für den Einzelnen bewirken könne. Das alles spielt, und der ebenso selbstbewusste wie bescheidene Cohen schätzte sich da ganz richtig ein, nicht in den Alpinregionen der Dichtung. Aber es sagt komplizierte Dinge mit so überwältigender Einfachheit, wie es nur Wenige vermögen.

Als Cohen 1956, lange bevor er seine Poetenkasse als Sänger und Songwriter aufzubessern begann, mit „Let’s Compare Mythologies“ (auf Deutsch in dem Band „Parasiten des Himmels“) die kanadische Lyrikszene betrat, war manches noch opulenter instrumentiert. Louis Dudek, sein Lehrer und Mentor an der McGill University, hatte ihn mit dem Modernismus von Ezra Pound bekannt gemacht, und die jüdische Kultur seiner Geburtsstadt Montreal, die ihren literarischen Chronisten in Mordecai Richler fand, beerbte er, indem er sich A.M. Klein, dem psalmodierenden Juden aus der Ukraine, anverwandelte – und mehr noch seinem hitzköpfigen Freund Irving Layton, einem rumänischen Juden, der zum bedeutendsten Dichter Kanadas im 20. Jahrhundert wurde.
Doch sonst ist sich Cohen im vergleichenden Spiel von alttestamentarisch-jüdischen und neutestamentarisch-christlichen Elementen, die er nicht erst durch seine Jahre als Zenmönch auf dem Mount Baldy im Los Angeles County buddhistisch erweiterte, treu geblieben. Und auch der schönheitstrunkene, Frauen vergötternde Troubadour, den 1970 ein 27-jähriger Kritiker namens Michael Ondaatje im ersten Buch über Cohens Lyrik benannte, greift, wenn auch reichlich zerzaust, noch immer in die König-Davids-Harfe.

Der Gedichtband erscheint zweisprachig

Nach dem im englischen Original 2006 erschienenen „Buch der Sehnsüchte“ (Book of Longing) ist „The Flame“ erfreulicherweise wieder eine zweisprachige Ausgabe. Eine zwölfköpfige Riege jüngerer deutscher Lyriker von Nora Bossong bis zu Kerstin Preiwuß, von Léonce W. Lupette bis zu Marcus Roloff, ist daran beteiligt. Doch ihr Lektor und Mitübersetzer Christian Lux war schlecht beraten, ihnen allen die Freiheit zu lassen, Cohens Versmusik entweder mitsamt den Reimen nachzubilden oder wortgetreu zu übersetzen. Entstanden ist nichts Halbes und nichts Ganzes, das mitunter schon den einzelnen Text durch Inkonsequenzen zerreißt: eine frühzeitige Kapitulation vor den übersetzerischen Herausforderungen einerseits – und ein Hinausschießen übers Ziel andererseits.

Hier, wo die Protagonisten der vielbeschworenen deutschsprachigen Lyrikblüte ihr Handwerk zeigen könnten, kleben sie oft allzu brav am Ursprungstext oder verkünsteln sich gewaltsam. Wie prägnant heißt es in „Happens To The Heart“ etwa: „I was selling holy trinkets / I was dressing kind of sharp / Had a pussy in the kitchen / And a panther in the yard / In the prison of the gifted / I was friendly with the guard / So I never had to witness / What happens to the heart“. Léonce W. Lupette macht daraus: „Ich verkaufte heiligen Nippes / ich trug Kleidung raffiniert / Hatte ’ne Mieze in der Küche / Einen Mähnenwolf im Revier / Hinter Mauern weil ich dichte / war ich stets zum Wärter lieb / Und hab nie mit ansehen müssen / Was mit dem Herz geschieht“. Alliteration gerettet, Rest tot.
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Re: THE FLAME - Reviews

Postby jarkko » Tue Oct 09, 2018 10:07 am

1988, 1993: Helsinki||2008: Manchester|Oslo|London O2|Berlin|Helsinki|London RAH|| 2009: New York Beacon|Berlin|Venice|Barcelona|Las Vegas|San José||2010: Salzburg|Helsinki|Gent|Bratislava|Las Vegas|| 2012: Gent|Helsinki|Verona|| 2013: New York|Pula|Oslo|||
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Re: THE FLAME - Reviews

Postby jarkko » Thu Oct 11, 2018 3:14 pm

https://www.welt.de/kultur/literarische ... sitesearch

The Flame is #4 in "the 20 most important books at the Frankfurt Book Fair"
LITERATUR FRANKFURTER BUCHMESSE
Die 20 wichtigsten Bücher – in nur einem Satz erklärt
Stand: 10.10.2018
Zur Buchmesse erscheinen wieder Tausende neue Romane. Aber wer soll das bitte alles lesen? Wir hätten da ein paar Empfehlungen für den Bücherherbst – in jeweils nur einem Satz erklärt.
2

1. Vicki Baum: Es war alles ganz anders (Kiepenheuer & Witsch). Vicki Baum hat sich selbst gern als erstklassige Schriftstellerin zweiter Güte bezeichnet, was natürlich Unsinn war, wie jeder in ihren jetzt neu aufgelegten Erinnerungen nachlesen kann, die den Weg von Berlin nach Hollywood und weg von Nazi-Deutschland beschreiben, mit viel Gossip und Witz und Palmen dazwischen.

2. Napoleon Bonaparte: Liebesbriefe (Matthes & Seitz). Wie mächtig ein mächtiger Mann wirklich ist, erkennt man bekanntermaßen an seinem Verhältnis zu Frauen, wie hier nachzulesen ist.

3. Frédéric Beigbeder: Endlos leben (Piper). Frédéric Beigbeder schildert den Verfall eines Mannes, der angesichts seines sich immer weiter zurückziehenden Haaransatzes einsieht, dass auch er – ja doch, sogar er, wie alle anderen auch! – irgendwann sterben wird, also verzweifelt versucht, nicht zum im Vorzimmer des Todes unsouverän herumrandalierenden Greis zu werden, und hyperpostmodern reagiert: „Um festzustellen, ob ich noch am Leben bin, bleibt mir nur die Möglichkeit, auf meiner Facebook-Seite nachzuschauen, wie viele Personen meinen letzten Post gelikt haben. Bei über 100.000 Likes kriege ich bisweilen eine Erektion.“

4. Leonard Cohen: Die Flamme (Kiepenheuer & Witsch). Um irgendwie die schillernde Dunkelheit des großen Dichters Cohen (Wieso hat Dylan und nicht Cohen den letzten Prä-Skandal-Literaturnobelpreis bekommen? Fehler!) philologisch zu ergründen, kann man sich nun durch sein allerletztes Werk, die Gedichte, Notizen und Zeichnungen graben – this is how the light gets in.
Thanks to Andrea, Gabriele & Reinhard for the link!
1988, 1993: Helsinki||2008: Manchester|Oslo|London O2|Berlin|Helsinki|London RAH|| 2009: New York Beacon|Berlin|Venice|Barcelona|Las Vegas|San José||2010: Salzburg|Helsinki|Gent|Bratislava|Las Vegas|| 2012: Gent|Helsinki|Verona|| 2013: New York|Pula|Oslo|||
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Re: THE FLAME - Reviews

Postby chogchurch » Thu Oct 11, 2018 6:28 pm

jarkko wrote:
Wed Oct 03, 2018 8:42 am
LA Review of Books
https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/a-s ... -aged-man/#!
A Self-Portrait of the Artist as an Aged Man
By Shoshana Olidort


OCTOBER 2, 2018
AMONG THE SUNDRY ITEMS decorating the refrigerator door in our modest, Stanford student housing unit is a ticket from a Leonard Cohen concert in Barclays Center, Brooklyn, dated December 20, 2012. I’m not sure how the ticket survived multiple moves (including one across country with two small kids in tow), and I’m not sure who put it up on the fridge, or when, but when I notice it, every so often, in passing, I think of that unforgettable night, when, for four surreal hours, I sat along with thousands of others, a rapt audience entranced by the magic of a man by then quite old, even sickly, who saw himself, and was seen by so many, as a modern-day prophet.

In a 2002 diary entry that appears in the newly released, posthumous collection The Flame: Poems Notebooks Lyrics Drawings, Cohen writes, “I swear / strive to complete / before it’s too late / some mission from G-d / I can’t even locate.” Though we tend to think of self-proclaimed prophets as egomaniacs, Cohen’s work evinces a different kind of prophetic stance, one marked by humility and an eagerness to carry out someone else’s bidding, to fulfill a mission he “can’t even locate.”

Cohen, who started out as a poet and published four books of poetry and a novel before launching his musical career in the 1960s, spent the months leading up to his death in November 2016 completing what he knew would be his final manuscript. While the quality of the poetry in this book is sometimes uneven, it’s clear that Cohen remained sharp until the very end, and the book, a kind of farewell tribute by the poet-prophet, offers ample evidence of his abiding sense of humor. To wit, these excerpts from a diary entry included in the book: “I think, therefore I am / right up there with / Mary had a Little Lamb,” and, “I don’t care much for the movie / but the popcorn is unsurpassed.”

But as a whole this volume’s register is one of pathos, the kind expressed in “My Career,” which reads: “So little to say / So urgent / to say it.” This sense of urgency, combined with an awareness of the fact that, despite a lifetime devoted to the written (and spoken) word, there was “so little to say,” runs through this book. These two seemingly contradictory sentiments come together in Cohen’s words and images, his simple black illustrations, many of them self-portraits of the aged singer, providing a visual commentary on the accompanying texts.

The passage of time is another recurring motif in this book, but Cohen’s is no simple reflection on the past. In “School Days,” Cohen writes, “I never think about The Past / but sometimes / The Past thinks about me / and sits down / ever so lightly on my face—” One can’t help but marvel at the poet’s brilliant maneuvering here. In the first instance, his use of the capitalized term “The Past” calls upon a sense of the past as rigid and unchangeable. But Cohen surprises us in this totally unexpected way when he subverts that very rigidity by showing us how the past can be turned into a thing apart, which may sit with us — even on us — “ever so lightly,” but need not rule our lives.

Toward the end of his life, Cohen’s songs, already dark, grew darker. Cohen’s preoccupation with mortality is brought into sharp relief in songs like “You Want It Darker,” whose lyrics (along with those from his final three albums) are included in this book. Approaching death, the song’s narrator lays out his cards: “If you are the dealer / I’m out of the game / If you are the healer / it means I’m broken and lame…” The song’s refrain, “Hineni Hineni / I’m ready, my Lord,” is a reference to Genesis with its stories of submission to an omnipotent and all-knowing God, whose call to Adam, Cain, Abraham, Moses, among other key figures in the Hebrew bible, elicits the response “Hineni,” meaning literally “here I am.”

Just weeks before he died, Cohen emailed the poet Peter Dale Scott, who had recently sent him a copy of his collection of poems, Walking on Darkness, with the inscription: “If you want it darker / This book is not for you / I have always wanted it lighter / And I think God does too.” What ensued was an email exchange about darkness, which is included in this book. Responding to Scott’s inscription, Cohen writes: “who says ’i’ want it darker? / who says the ’you’ is me? […] he will make it darker / he will make it light / according to his torah / which leonard did not write.” Here, the self-effacing prophet defers to God and the Torah that, while Leonard might transmit, “leonard did not write,” and which he “can’t even locate.”

More than his musical or poetic talent, what endeared Cohen to fans was an earnestness so rarely seen among the famous. While Oscar Wilde may have been onto something when he famously asserted that “[a]ll bad poetry springs from genuine feeling,” it would be ludicrous to conclude from this that genuine feeling necessarily begets bad poetry. Cohen managed to communicate his earnestness through songs and poetry to a worldwide fanbase, and many tributes to the artist published after his death pointed to the way that his songs seemed to speak directly to his listeners.

In 2011, Cohen was awarded Spain’s Prince of Asturias Award for literature. In his acceptance speech, which appears in full in this book, Cohen insisted, “Poetry comes from a place that no one commands and no one conquers.” He went on to explain that he felt “somewhat like a charlatan to accept an award for an activity which I do not command.”

Whether or not he could command his poetry, Cohen proved adept at commanding an audience. When a financial crisis (resulting from a manager swindling him of his life’s earnings) drove Cohen to conduct world tours in the final decade of his life, he rose to the occasion.

Watching him perform on that winter evening in Brooklyn, nearly six years ago, I was struck most of all by Cohen’s presence — prophet-like in his ubiquitous gray-black fedora, kneeling as if in deference to his audience.
“Since I no longer wish to explain myself / I have become a stone / Since I no longer long for anyone / I am not alone,” writes Cohen in another diary entry excerpted in this book. For Cohen, who never relished fame or fortune, prophecy was about transcendence. Though he claimed not to know the origins of his poetry nor to be able to locate his mission, what Cohen offered his many fans and followers was the opportunity to partake of the kind of spiritual experience that makes it possible for us to feel, if only for a moment, that we are not alone.

---

Shoshana Olidort is a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at Stanford University. Her research focuses on poetry as a mode of performing identity through a consideration of five 20th-century Jewish women poets.

Thanks for the link.
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Re: THE FLAME - Reviews

Postby jarkko » Thu Oct 11, 2018 9:33 pm

And the book is one of "10 titles to pick up right now" in the November issue of O, the Oprah Magazine
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