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The Flame

Poems Notebooks Lyrics Drawings

Leonard Cohen; Edited by Robert Faggen and Alexandra Pleshoyano


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ISBN10: 1250234794
ISBN13: 9781250234797

Trade Paperback

288 Pages


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The Flame is the final work from Leonard Cohen, the revered poet and musician whose fans span generations and whose work is celebrated throughout the world. Featuring poems, excerpts from his private notebooks, lyrics, and hand-drawn self-portraits, The Flame offers an unprecedentedly intimate look inside the life and mind of a singular artist.

A reckoning with a life lived deeply and passionately, with wit and panache, The Flame is a valedictory work.

“This volume contains my father’s final efforts as a poet,” writes Cohen’s son, Adam Cohen, in his foreword. “It was what he was staying alive to do, his sole breathing purpose at the end.”

Leonard Cohen died in late 2016. But “each page of paper that he blackened,” in the words of his son, “was lasting evidence of a burning soul.”


Praise for The Flame

"It’s clear that Cohen remained sharp until the very end, and the book, a kind of farewell tribute by the poet-prophet, offers ample evidence of his abiding sense of humor . . . Though he claimed not to know the origins of his poetry nor to be able to locate his mission, what Cohen offered his many fans and followers was the opportunity to partake of the kind of spiritual experience that makes it possible for us to feel, if only for a moment, that we are not alone."—Shoshana Olidort, Los Angeles Review of Books

"The Flame is Cohen's last gift to us . . . Cohen’s radical honesty and wit became more refined and purified with each passing year . . . He magicked and mastered us after all, getting us to clamor for the bitter pill of his tender, scathing, suffering, beatific vision."—Pamela Erens, Virginia Quarterly Review

"If you felt Leonard Cohen’s death in 2016 as a personal assault, this book is a posthumous balm . . . All of Cohen’s work has a raw, straight-to-the-heart intensity—reach for this the next time you need inspiration for a wedding toast that will leave them gutted, or any other moment you need a little sustenance for the soul."—Chloe Schama, Vogue

"In The Flame, an aging artist struggles with questions of death and legacy—and tries not to take them too seriously, true to his claim never to do so . . . If [this is] how long it takes to say ‘so long’ to someone beautiful, we’ll be listening to Cohen—still smirking and smiling—for decades to come, with this collection as our companion."—Hannah Niemeier, The Spectator

"Steeped in somber reckoning, The Flame takes the long view that only age affords . . . Sprinkled with Cohen’s self-portrait sketches, The Flame is full of gestures so intimate it’s almost a voyeuristic experience . . . The work feels both like a final speech and a disrobing. In perusing the sizeable volume, one can’t help but feel privy to something raw and shining, both uncomfortably and movingly revealing, the final laying-bare of a unique chronicler of the human heart."—BookPage

"Poignant and brave, lit up with flashes of anger, this is a luminous collection and classic Cohen."—Booklist (starred review)

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt


I was always working steady

But I never called it art

I was funding my depression

Meeting Jesus reading Marx

Sure it failed my little fire

But it’s bright the dying spark


About the author

Leonard Cohen; Edited by Robert Faggen and Alexandra Pleshoyano

Leonard Cohen was born in Montreal in 1934. Soon after graduating from McGill University, he published his first collection of poems, Let Us Compare Mythologies, in 1956. He would go on to publish a dozen more volumes of poetry, including Book of Longing, and two novels, The Favourite Game and Beautiful Losers. A hugely influential and critically acclaimed singer and songwriter, Cohen released fourteen studio albums between 1967 and 2016, the last being You Want It Darker, for the title track of which he posthumously won the Grammy for Best Rock Performance. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2010, and was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2010 Grammys. He won both the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature and the Glenn Gould Prize in 2011, and the first PEN New England Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award in 2012. Cohen died in Los Angeles on November 7, 2016.

Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

Leonard Cohen

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