The Juno Hall of Fame induction was held March 3, 1991.
Credit Due Department: Library and Archives Canada. Photographer: Barry Roden
A video of this ceremony, in which Adrienne Clarkson inducts Leonard Cohen into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, has been available before, but this version seems especially clear and thus provides a rationale for once again viewing Leonard Cohen’s moving acceptance speech.
From People Are Talking About. Vogue: August 1969.
Leonard Cohen refused the prize awarded to his collection, The Selected Poems 1956-1968
Note: Originally posted August 2, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
As ongoing readers may know, I occasionally post at the official Leonard Cohen Facebook Page. Today’s entry features his speech accepting The Prince Of Asturias Award In Letters given in Oviedo on October 21, 2011. Stop by and take a look at Leonard Cohen Facebook.
Mordecai Richler, called “the great shining star of his Canadian literary generation” by Robert Fulford,1 went into full Norman Mailer mode when he learned that Cohen refused to accept his 1968 Governor General’s Award.2
A bit of background is helpful: The Governor General’s Literary Awards, first granted in 1937, have become Canada’s premier book awards and are viewed as
a significant achievement by both Canadian authors and their publishers. Winning the award has almost always resulted in increased sales.3
In addition, winners since 1951 have received not only medals but also monetary prizes ($250 in 1951; $25,000 in 2007).4
In short, turning down The Governor General’s Literary Award is not a trivial gesture.5
According to the Globe and Mail (28 May 1969, p. 6), Cohen would not accept the honor for his winning collection, Selected Poems 1956-1968, because
The world is a callous place and [he] would take no gift from it.
He did, however, note, “I would like to be Governor-General.”
According to Mordecai Richler: Leaving St. Urbain by Reinhold Kramer,6 Richler (then 38 years old, three years senior to Cohen), infuriated that Cohen refused his Governor General’s Award when Richler wanted to accept his own GG Awards,7
herded him [Leonard Cohen] into the bathroom and bawled him out.
Ira Nadel, writing in Various Positions,8 provides a more detailed account. The scanned excerpt below (click on image to enlarge) begins the night of the award ceremonies:
I’m a tad unclear why “I don’t know,” Cohen’s response to Richler’s query about his reason for turning down the award, would be an answer, let alone the only answer, that would quell Richler’s wrath but, for the record, I think it a good thing that Richler, who also threatened Austin Clarke, another Canadian novelist and short story writer, with a knuckle sandwich,9 settled for venting his spleen verbally rather than resorting to fisticuffs.
Credit Due Department: The image atop this post is credited to Horst Ehricht / Library and Archives Canada / e002712851
Note: Originally posted June 5, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
In celebration of Leonard Cohen’s 80th birthday (Sept 21, 2014), admirers of the Canadian singer-songwriter contributed funding for a commemorative bench to be erected on Hydra, the Greek island where Cohen has spent much of the 1960s. Although the project was approved by the appropriate authorities, it was placed on hold when a local homeowner raised objects and threatened legal action.
This past weekend, however, when Cohenites gathered on Hydra, a stealth bench appeared as well. Exotic materials and sophisticated cloaking technology created the illusion to the naked eye and in photographs that the massive facility was little more than a board and a couple of stones, (For more information and photos, see Leonard Cohen Hydra Stealth Bench – Report #1 and Leonard Cohen Hydra Stealth Bench – Report #2)
Now, Cohenite agent Joy Ezekiel reports:
Reuters: Narrowly avoiding a European meltdown, David Cameron moved quickly to remove a small piece of wood and 2 supports today on a Greek Island. Only hours before Greek diplomats turned up, the scene was returned to normal by a crack team of SAS who came in over night, wore LC t shirts as disguise, mingled at the Roloi bar, and then moved in under the cover of daylight to remove the objects. Euro crisis not expected and Greece may remain part of EU.
Credit Due Department: Photo atop this post by Roman Gavrilin aka Hermitage Prisoner. Second photo by Marie Nolan