Max & Iris Stern International Symposium: Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything – Montreal, April 6 & 7, 2018

Information from Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything

By turns a poet, novelist, songwriter, singer and even Buddhist monk, Leonard Cohen left behind a protean body of work, spanning more than six decades, that has continually fascinated audiences and for many remains a source of inspiration today. For the twelfth Max and Iris Stern International Symposium, a gathering of cultural historians and museum professionals will present the latest research on the life and work of this seminal artist, while also investigating the dialogue between Cohen’s aesthetic legacy and contemporary art, as addressed in the exhibition Une brèche en toute chose / A Crack in Everything. The discussions will further tackle the broader issue of the links that have been drawn between pop music and contemporary art in other recent exhibitions, and examine the challenges this phenomenon poses for museology (dialogues between disciplines, genres and media, audience representation, institutional economics, new technologies and mediation of content).


The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson
Rebecca Duclos
John Zeppetelli
Victor Shiffman
François LeTourneux
Ira Nadel
Chantal Ringuet
Christophe Lebold
Francis Mus
Alexandra Pleshoyano
Robert Kory
Dominic Molon
Victoria Broackes

The talks will be given in either French or English. Simultaneous translation service will be available.

Friday, April 6
Saturday, April 7

$20: Regular ticket
$10: students with valid I.D.
15% reduction for MACarte cardholders
Tickets sold online or at the MAC.

[email protected]

Credit Due Department: Photo by Christof Graf

McGill Offers “Leonard Cohen: In Words and Music” Workshop With Dr. Chantal Ringuet: March 21-April 11, 2018

Leonard Cohen: In Words and Music is a workshop led by Dr. Chantal Ringuet at the McGill School of Continuing Studies, The following is from the McGill website:

Join us for an overview of Leonard Cohen’s work and journey. Gain an understanding of the greater cultural context of the writers of the beat generation, folk singers in the US, the turbulence of the 1960s, Québec’s Quiet Revolution, modernism and postmodernism, and the Cold War; all through Leonard Cohen’s work. You will learn all about the emergence of the young McGill poet and his position as an outsider in his community. The focus will then shift from the writer to the acclaimed singer, composer, and songwriter that he became when he turned to performance and recording. As a cultural icon, Cohen will be studied starting with the emergence of his first album, 1967’s Songs of Leonard Cohen, which later became a cultural phenomenon. We will follow his resurgence after 1988’s I’m Your Man and his world fame after the tours of 2008-2013.

Sessions: 4
Dates: Mar 21, 2018 to Apr 11, 2018
Time: 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM

The course outline and online registration can be found at

Leonard Cohen: In Words and Music 

I’m Your Man. La vie de Leonard Cohen: Conversation between Chantal Ringuet, Elisabeth Domergue and Sylvie Simmons – Montreal, Nov 6, 2017

Information from MAC website:

In connection with the exhibition Leonard Cohen: Une brèche en toute chose / A Crack in Everything, the MAC presents a conversation between Chantal Ringuet, Elisabeth Domergue and Sylvie Simmons, author of I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen (Ecco, 2012; published in French by Édito, 2017). The conversation will take place on Monday, November 6 at 3 p.m., and will be followed by a book signing at 4:30 p.m. (books will be available in both languages).

Tickets are free and will be available at the MAC ticket counter starting Tuesday, October 31. Space is limited. Maximum four tickets per person.


Chantal Ringuet is a Canadian award-winning author, scholar and translator. She is the author of collections of poems (2009 Jacques-Poirier literary award) and of works on Yiddish Montreal. With Gérard Rabinovitch, she has published Les révolutions de Leonard Cohen (PUQ, 2016), which received a 2017 Canadian Jewish Literary Award. With Pierre Anctil, she has published a translation of the early biography of Marc Chagall (Mon univers. Autobiographie, Fides, 2017). She has been a Fellow of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York, Scholar-in-Residence at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute (Brandeis University) and Writer-in-Residence and literary translator in residence at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

Sylvie Simmons is an award-winning author and music journalist. Born in London, England, she left for Los Angeles forty years ago to become one of the rare women included in the predominantly male rock-writing elite: the BBC made a documentary about her titled The Rock Chick. Simmons has published fiction and non-fiction books, including a short story collection, Too Weird for Ziggy, and biographies of Neil Young and Serge Gainsbourg. Her most recent is I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen, the best-selling biography that Janet Maslin at the New York Times described as “smart, fearless and mesmerizing,” and Brian D. Johnson at Macleans called “the most discerning, intimate and definitive biography ever written about Canada’s pre-eminent singer, songwriter, poet and monk.” Based in San Francisco, Sylvie Simmons writes about music for MOJO magazine. She is currently collaborating on a book with Debbie Harry of Blondie and working on a new record.

An Open Balcony as an Au Revoir to Leonard Cohen by Chantal Ringuet


Introduction: At the September 28, 2017 Homage to Leonard Cohen organized by the Museum of Jewish Montreal, Chantal Ringuet presented, in French, An Open Balcony as an Au Revoir to Leonard Cohen. Her English translation appears below with some colloquial English editing on my part.  Part I and Part II were read at the event; Part III was added afterwards. A video of the presentation can be found near the end of this post.

PART I. November 11, 2016, 1:00 am

What a sorrow. I just learned three hours ago that Leonard Cohen has left us. I was actually in Westmount, sketching a portrait on Victoria Street, a few blocks from Shaar Hashomayim, the synagogue Leonard attended as a boy. It is the Shaar Hashomayim Choir that can be heard on his final album, You Want it Darker. When I got into my car, Hallelujah was playing on the radio. My first thought was: it is rare, nowadays, that we hear Cohen’s version of Hallelujah playing on the radio. There must be some kind of special occasion. My second thought was: since Trump’s election yesterday, perhaps Leonard Cohen will take this as an occasion to leave this world. Two seconds later, I read an email from a friend that he had indeed died. Suddenly, I was totally overwhelmed with sorrow – and how could I not cry in these circumstances? I went to the mountain, to a  special place I go whenever I want to gather myself or be alone during important moments. I gazed down on the city’s landscape, the city where he had been born and that he loved so much. Then, I told him I loved him, I thanked him for everything, and I wished him to rest in peace.

As for me, it all started, in a way, with Leonard Cohen – Montreal, Jewish literature, love, poetry, exile… And the quest for transcendence, a quest that he pursued until the end.

And now, I head towards the Parc du Portugal, in front of his house, in order to tell him “Au revoir” for the last time. Hineni, hineni. Here I am.

It is a tremendous loss, even if we knew that it was coming, even if he had warned us n the letter that he wrote to Marianne Ihlen, his love, his muse from the old days, when she herself left this world, a few weeks ago.

I am happy to have paid him tribute with our book, Les révolutions de Leonard Cohen, published last April (2016), and I would like to thank my allies, notably Gérard Rabinovitch, the co-editor, and the eighteen authors, who participated in this enterprise. Because I — from his poems, his songs and his novels, his voice — I received a lot. He colored my life in a unique way in my teenage years; and again when I arrived in Montreal, and still again much later – and that, of course, I will never forget. I believe he has helped many of us cling to life at certain moments, some beautiful and others difficult; I think that, for many of us. his words and his music made life good to live, .

I was later surprised to learn that Leonard Cohen had actually left us a few days earlier, on the night of Monday, November 7, 2016. On that evening, our book Les révolutions de Leonard Cohen was launched (for a second time) at Concordia University. During those last hours of his life, our little group of scholars and students (among whom was writer Naïm Kattan) had accompanied Leonard Cohen in thought, gathering around this book that celebrates his œuvre in his beloved Montreal. I see in this a hymn to love and beauty, an encounter created by the alignment of the stars that sealed my relationship to the great poet that he was and that sealed his own relationship to Montreal and to all the Montrealers who loved him so much.

PART II. November 12, 2016

Earlier, I went to the Hommage à Leonard Cohen: A Perfect Offering. A small crowd gathered in the Parc du Portugal to sing his songs, while in front of his house, people, as they had every night since his death was announced, left objects, lit candles, said private prayers, and took photos. I ran into many acquaintances, and we gratefully exchanged a few words.

I wondered what to leave in front of his door. I first thought of flowers, and then of a little stone in the Judaic tradition. Finally, I concluded that a book was the best idea. I immediately thought about the book I had co-edited about him. But somehow offering a book on Leonard’s own work felt strange. Finally, I decided to leave on his doorstep my book À la découverte du Montréal yiddish [Discovering Yiddish Montreal], which depicts (among other things) the history of his neighborhood. Since Cohen had opened the road to Jewish Montreal for me, this gesture seemed particularly relevant. I shared that notion with a sympathetic journalist I know and who had known Cohen personally. He exclaimed, “But someone will take your book!” “Yes,” I answered, “after the commemoration, someone will take this book – at least, I hope someone will; then, it will reach another reader.” And this is exactly the beauty of this story: from Cohen to me and then through that book, a path is opening, a kind of transmission which leads to somebody else – someone who will have gone there, in front of his door.

At the precise moment I left my book among the flowers, the candles, and the other objects, photographer Jacques Nadeau from the francophone newspaper Le Devoir was taking photographs. He later sent me one. This image is, above all, that of a commemorative site that had grown enormously since Thursday night. With all the bystanders, with the peaceful atmosphere that permeates it, it had become very beautiful. People cry, they move around and they confide to each other. All this thanks to Leonard Cohen, whom we already miss so much, and who has left an important mark on this city.

What will Montreal become without Leonard Cohen?

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Leonard Cohen et La Bible / Leonard Cohen: Songs From The Bible: Montreal – Nov 1, 2017

Leonard Cohen et La Bible / Leonard Cohen: Songs From The Bible features a lecture about Cohen songs inspired by the Bible given by Chantal Ringuet, PhD and co-author of a book about Cohen. Songs from this category will be performed a capella by Choir Les Filles de l’île: Hallelujah, If It Be Your Will, Anthem, Come Healing, Born In Chains.

November 1 at 7 pm at Auditorium of Saint-Albert-le-Grand church: 2715 Côte-Sainte-Catherine, Montréal 

Reservations: [email protected] or 514-739-9084.

Cambridge University To Offer Bob Dylan & Leonard Cohen Course

Excerpt from Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen course being run at Cambridge University by Ciaran Gold (Cambridge News: Aug 25, 2017):

The Institute of Continuing Education is running a two-day course called Changing Times, which is focusing on the work of Dylan and Cohen in the 1960s. A spokeswoman said writer Jem Poster and musicologist Stephen Ferron would examine “lyrics and music” during the course, being held on Saturday September 2 and Sunday September 3. She added students would study Dylan at sessions called Folk And Protest, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blonde and Cohen at sessions called Poet And Singer, Songs Of Leonard Cohen, Songs From A Room and Songs Of Love And Hate.