Adam Cohen, son of lyricist-poet Leonard Cohen has published this final collection of his father’s poems and songs. Cohen’s work is instantly recognisable – that easy free flow of emotion, the ins and out of young love and old flames, and that candid fireside chat way of looking at life. This anthology is a wonderful window into the poet’s last year and is representative of a lot of his previous work.
Love and loss are the two themes that stand out most. Most of the body of work is quintessential Cohen. In “Moving On”, these lines take the reader down familiar lanes: “I loved your face, I loved your hair/Your T-shirts and your eveningwear/As for the world, the job, the war/I ditched them all to love you more”. And there are others too that are reminiscent of his works like “Suzanne Takes you down” from the 60s. Take for example: “Her bread is very sweet/she baked it by herself/in an oven on a hill above the sea/an oven that I built…”
Cohen’s long life (he was 82 when he died in 2016), was peppered with many relationships, women he met and left behind. His work and life led him on travels all over the world, and in his poems there is in evidence, at times, the exhaustion of a life well worn. The book is illustrated with Cohen’s self-portraits. Surprisingly, almost as if defying expectation, the portraits remain static. They have the same gaunt expression page after page. This makes the read visually appealing because of its divergence from the norm – like the man.
The speech with which Cohen accepted the Prince of Asturias award in Spain is included, as was his wish. This adds an extra dimension to revealing where some of his inspiration came from. It is no secret that Cohen was a fan of the Latin poet Federico Lorca, but this piece adds colour to that story and depth, which makes it a great addition.
In essence, this work is proof of Adam Cohen’s note in the foreward about his father. He says: “Writing was his reason for being. It was the fire he was tending to, the most significant flame he fueled. It was never extinguished”.