Leonard Cohen Correspondence – Two Letters To & A $10 Check From Ralph Gustafson 1956 & 1957


Letters From Leonard

These are Images of the correspondence between Leonard Cohen, then a student at Columbia University, and Ralph Gustafson, a Canadian poet and university professor, about including Cohen’s work in a Penguin anthology of poetry Gustafson was editing are online at the  University of Saskatchewan Library, Special Collections. I’ve reproduced a couple of the letters from Cohen as well as the $10 check he received in payment.

The letter atop this post is Cohen’s response to Gustafson’s original letter proposing that two of the poems, “Ballad” end “When This American Woman” from Let Us Compare Mythologies be reprinted in the forthcoming Penguin anthology of Canadian poetry.1  Gustafson’s letter also pointed out an error in apostrophe placement in “Ballad,” which Cohen’s response does not address.  I am, for obscure reasons, somehow delighted that Leonard Cohen, a student at Columbia who is writing to an important poet who wants to publish his work, mentions in this short epistle that he had a hamburger with Hank Nevard the night before.

The letter directly below, written on International House stationery, offers the biographical information Gustafson requested along with a plea that the editor choose an alternative to “When This American Woman,” because “I [Cohen] don’t think it’s any good.”


And the show me the money piece:


The entire correspondence set, including the text  of the images, can be accessed at Ralph Gustafson Collection –  Correspondence, Leonard Cohen

Upcoming: This not the only significant interaction between  Leonard Cohen and Ralph Gustafson. Another post about a less congenial event is forthcoming.

Note: Originally posted Jan 5, 2014 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. Text follows:

    599 Belmont Avenue
    Westmount, Quebec

    June 14, 1956

    Dear Ralph,

    I’m delighted that you like the book and that you might include me in the Penguin.

    The book has been going we’ll: most of the first small edition (450) already sold and a second in consideration. Excited to hear this morning that Critically Speaking will review it. July 1st at 4:30 pm, if you have the time and a powerful radio.

    I am leaving Montreal next week for a children’s camp outside of Ottawa, and returning for the month of September. Then I’ll be in New York for the next year or two doing an English M.A. at Columbia. I hope we can meet.

    Had a hamburger last night with Hank Nevard who is working very hard on forthcoming Bar exams and he sends his regards.

    How Is the novel? I’d very much like to talk to you about the differences between poetic and prose disciplines. Anxious to read your work. Thanks for the note and encouragement.



    P.S. I’ll find out about your order to Contact Press. But if you want another book I’d be happy to send you one. []

Video: Leonard Cohen Cuteness Claim Contested

Leonard Cohen’s Stages Of Man’s Allure To Women

While audiences have enthusiastically applauded Leonard Cohen’s latest addition to his “Tower Of Song” introduction, Six Stages Of Man’s Allure To Women, his fans, especially his female admirers, have protested his assertion that he has passed through the first five stages to arrive at Stage 6: Cute.1

Consequently, the The Leonard Cohen Corrections Agency was called in on the case.

The Leonard Cohen Corrections Agency

The Leonard Cohen Corrections Agency is a privately-funded organization dedicated to the rectification of inaccuracies promulgated by Leonard Cohen, no small task given the Canadian singer-songwriter’s admission that “I don’t want to let the facts get in the way of the truth.”2

An investigation ensued and a verdict rendered.

Video: A Respectful Dissent To Leonard Cohen’s Six Stages Of Man’s Allure To Women

Video by Allan Showalter

Other Leonard Cohen Corrections Agency Posts

Note: Originally posted Dec 9, 2013 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

  1. The Six Stages follow:

    1. Irresistible2. Resistible
    3. Transparent
    4. Invisible
    5. Repulsive
    6. Cute []

  2. See Leonard Cohen Tells Sexologist About His Dog, His Mother, His Impermanence, Seduction, Men As Cocker Spaniels, and Rules Between Men & Women []

Leonard Cohen Drawn as Dustin Hoffman as Ratso Rizzo – By Aislin

Aislin (alias Terry Mosher) is one of the many who have noted the similarity between Leonard Cohen and Lookalike: Dustin Hoffman, His cartoon features Leonard Cohen as Dustin Hoffman as Ratso Rizzo in Midnight Cowboy. 

2000, Ink, felt pen and opaque white on paper
© McCord Museum

Also see

Outstanding Photos: Dec 7, 2013 Leonard Cohen Geelong Concert + “Troubles of a Troubadour”


These eight striking photos were taken by Ted McDonnell, the Australian photojournalist who previously contributed Exclusive Photos of the 2013 Leonard Cohen Bercy Concert  Ted writes:

Legendary singer, songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen and his ensemble captivated thousands of Australian fans at the Day on the Green concert in Geelong, Victoria. Cohen hinted it may well be one of his final concerts in Australia.

Troubles of a Troubadour

Continue Reading →

“You know what a wreck my life is?” Leonard Cohen Kvetches (1969)

You know what a wreck my life is? I don’t do anything day upon day, and I lie around in despair and kvetch a lot, and I can’t put anything together. So how am I going to talk about these heavy mysteries?quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Songs Sacred and Profane by Ira Mothner. Look: June 10, 1969. Photo by Tony Vaccaro used in original article. See “Leonard Cohen was a monument” Tony Vaccaro Talks About His Iconic Leonard Cohen Photos – Nashville 1968. Originally posted Dec 10, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Impeccable Video, Classic Performance: Leonard Cohen Sings Hallelujah – Birmingham 2013


I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing hallelujah

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah
Birmingham: Sept 8, 2013
Video: albertnoonan

Note: Originally posted Sep 10, 2013 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric