Monday, May 15, 2006

Cohen honours Layton, Reuters.com, May 15 06

http://today.reuters.com

By Leah Schnurr

TORONTO (Reuters) - Reclusive poet and troubadour Leonard Cohen made a rare public appearance on Saturday to promote his first book in 22 years, which he hopes will help him recoup some of the money he says was stolen by his former manager.

Cohen, 71, recently, won a $9 million lawsuit against Kelley Lynch, his one-time lover and manager of nearly 17 years, whom Cohen says skimmed more than $5 million of his savings over eight years, leaving him about $150,000 to retire on.

Dressed in a charcoal suit, he recited a short poem in his signature baritone and performed two of his most famous songs, "So Long, Marianne" and "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye," along with Canadian musicians Barenaked Ladies, and Ron Sexsmith.

He was greeted by a throng of fans that shut down a normally busy Toronto street and sang along with the music.

"Book of Longing," Cohen's 12th publication in a career spanning 50 years, has received mostly favorable reviews. The Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper called it "not so much an illustrated collection of poems as it is a shaped autobiography."

The book is filled with Cohen's sketches and drawings and is dedicated to Canadian poet Irving Layton, a mentor to Cohen who died this year.

Many of the poems were written during Cohen's stay at the Zen Center on Mount Baldy, near Los Angeles, where he was ordained as a Zen monk under the name Jikan.

Equally renowned for his soulful ballads as his poetry, Cohen has enjoyed the image of troubadour and romantic since his first book "Let Us Compare Mythologies" in 1956.

His music includes many folk classics like "Suzanne," "Famous Blue Raincoat" and "Bird on a Wire."

Cohen is rumored to be planning a fall tour and is working on a CD, a follow-up to 2004's "Dear Heather."

He appears in the feature-length documentary "Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man," which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

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