Letters to the Editor - The New York Times

Letters to the Editor – The New York Times

To the Editor:

In his review of “The Flame: Poems, Notebooks, Lyrics, Drawings” (Jan. 6), William Logan — whom I had never heard of but who, from his professorial perch, has apparently written numerous hatchet jobs on fellow poets (what a miserable job, hitting those already down) — refers repeatedly, patronizingly, to the “cult” of Leonard Cohen, with all its attendant connotations of not-too-intelligent, uneducated, deluded individuals who are in thrall to fulfilling the narcissistic needs of a power-hungry, often evil leader. Far more than offering a critic’s dispassionate eye, Logan strikes me as passionately, revealingly enraged about Cohen’s fame and his particular appeal to women, which Logan casts as his “famous lechery,” begging the question: “Why the beef, Bill?”

No matter. Please register me in the “cult” of Cohen as I join with the millions around the globe who are deeply moved, united by Cohen: the man, the music, the “gravelly” voice, the wit, the Astairan grace, the divine self-deprecation. (Full disclosure: I am also a card-carrying member of the “cults” of Dylan, Presley, Orbison, Fitzgerald, Sinatra, Mozart, Bach, Shakespeare. …)

Logan has, contrary to his aim, succeeded in giving Cohen the ultimate — though pathetically P.C. — honor given to all great artists: the vitriolic posthumous takedown. One sees Cohen, in his fedora, looking down with his all but imperceptible impish grin.


To the Editor:

In his almost heroically ill-informed review of “The Flame,” William Logan writes that Cohen “was never taken very seriously as a poet.” In fact, Cohen won numerous accolades during his career, including the 1968 Governor General’s Literary Award, Canada’s highest prize (which he refused to accept), for his “Selected Poems, 1956-1968”; the Canadian Authors Association Literary Award for “Book of Mercy” in 1985; and the Prince of Asturias Award in the literature category in 2011. Millions of readers would also testify to his brilliance as a poet.

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