Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Anne Julia MacLean's Insights Into Leonard Cohen & The Facade He Projects To The World


1.                 I am a citizen of Canada. I also am known by the literary pseudonym Ann Diamond. I
have known Leonard Cohen for approximately thirty-eight years.  I have known Kelley Lynch since approximately 2008.  I am over the age of 18 years.  I have personal knowledge of the facts contained in this declaration and if called upon to testify I could and would testify competently as to the truth of the facts stated herein.
2.                 In May 2008 I received an email from Kelley Lynch, who was then living in Colorado.
I had read the 2005 news stories alleging she had stolen Cohen’s retirement fund. Knowing Cohen, I had always wondered about her side of the story. Over the next few weeks we corresponded. She came across as sensible and rational, but clearly furious about the accusations of embezzlement which she denied. She was sending out hundreds of emails to the media, FBI, DOJ, IRS etc. and copied some of our personal emails to her internet audience. Since her working relationship with Cohen in 1988 began at approximately the time I stopped seeing him, she filled in some blanks and provided some insight into problems I had subsequently had. I identified with her to the extent that it seemed we had both been close to Cohen at one time, but had serious disagreements with him. When we ‘mutinied’ he used his personal power, oratorical skills and media contacts to damage us professionally and personally. Because Lynch’s side of the story had been ignored in the media, I ended up writing an account (“Whatever Happened to Kelley Lynch”) which I posted on my blog in August 2008. Two weeks later I received a letter from Robert Kory demanding I take down the blog or be sued for libel. Because I was far away in Greece, and did not know Kelley Lynch personally, I felt I had to comply. Kelley continued circulating the text of my article over the internet and many people have now read it. A paraphrased version appears in Sylvie Simmons’ biography of Cohen, I’m Your Man, where my article is credited in the footnotes.  See Exhibit A attached hereto and made a part hereof (“Whatever Happened to Kelley Lynch”).
3.                 I met Leonard Cohen through a mutual acquaintance in Montreal in November 1977,
when I was 26 and he was 43. He was still married, but legally separated, from his wife Suzanne with whom he had two children. Leonard Cohen was known as a ladies’ man around our neighbourhood of Montreal, but he had just brought out a new record, Death of a Ladies’ Man (with Phil Spector) and a book of poems (Death of a Lady’s Man) which seemed to send a message he was turning over a new leaf. We saw each other a few times over the next two years, on occasions when he came into Montreal from Los Angeles. Our relationship was more than a friendship. There was a strong sense of personal connection. Early on, I realized I was interested in him as a mentor or teacher, not necessarily as a lover or boyfriend.  Soon after we met, he introduced me to his “old friend” Hazel Field, a woman about my age, who acted as if she was in charge of Leonard’s relationships with women. This resulted in my seeing him mostly in private, rather than joining his circle of friends.
4.                 In 1979 I travelled to Greece, where he had invited me to meet him on the island of
Hydra. I was on Hydra for three and a half months, thanks to a small arts grant from the Canadian government. In 1980, I received another arts grant and was on Hydra writing a novel from December to September 1981. Leonard was also there for the entire year. In the fishbowl of Greek island life, I observed his complicated relationships with women younger than myself. However when I went out with other men, he began telling me we were getting married. This became a “theme”, although it seemed more like a way to make sure I didn’t wander off. He spoke with great conviction, making it hard to know what to believe.
5.                 In 1982 he suggested I go to Mount Baldy Zen Center, outside Los Angeles, to meet
Zen Master Sasaki Roshi. By then I was ready to move on and end our relationship, which had become ambiguous and confusing. He had hinted he was interested in sado-masochistic sex, which did not interest me. I was disturbed by his secret world that involved lots of deception and emotional cruelty. The Roshi (who initially told me I should “marry Leonard Cohen”) was helpful and encouraged me to think Leonard was still a “good friend.”
6.                 I returned to Montreal where a friend had offered me an apartment he was giving up.
It was small, pleasant, with incredibly low rent. My friend was not aware he was living next door to Leonard Cohen. Montreal’s economy was depressed and low rent was a big factor in allowing me to survive on a freelance income over the 12 years I lived there, especially after I quit my teaching job. During those years I saw Leonard only occasionally, usually by accident in the street, but sometimes he phoned or I phoned him. Our relationship was distant but cordial, but there also were a few tense incidents. His daughter Lorca was a concern. At age 10 she asked me to help her write a book about her father. When Leonard found out he banned me from talking to her. Another source of tension was Hazel Field’s presence on the block. Hazel is a famous gossip and spread damaging rumours about me that no one would ever repeat to me. Leonard remained generally friendly to me and once assured me if I was the subject of gossip it was just due to “jealousy.”
7.                 In March 1992, for the Montreal Gazette I interviewed Leonard’s close friend,
Canadian poet Irving Layton on the occasion of his 80th birthday. Before I left Layton remarked that he was pleasantly surprised to meet me and “find out you’re nothing like the violent, psychotic woman I’ve been hearing about all these years.” He first denied, but later admitted the source was Leonard Cohen. This came as a shock. I sent Leonard an angry fax, then regretted it and phoned to apologize. It was the first and only time I ever telephoned his Los Angeles number, but he accused me of being the anonymous caller who had been harassing him for weeks. He avoided answering my question. I was left with the impression that he had told certain people I was a “dangerous psychotic” while allowing me to think nothing was amiss. From then on, I realized he had a higher-than-average capacity to deceive people, even those he called ‘friends.’ Perhaps he liked pandering to people’s fantasies, or maybe he liked creating chaos. Or maybe this was his way of controlling people by divide-and-rule.
8.                 In autumn 1993 his daughter Lorca, then 19, was enrolled in the BA program at
Concordia. She was living in Leonard’s building on the corner of our street with a group of her friends. Soon after she arrived she knocked on my door and asked if she could speak to me about something important. I hadn’t seen her in five years, and she looked drastically different from the last time: she was covered with tattoos and piercings and had dyed her hair black and purple. I had a deadline to meet, so I asked her to come back another time but she never did. A few months later I met her with Leonard in the park. She was returning to Los Angeles. Later I was told she had overdosed on heroin and had dropped out of university, but I had been unaware of all these problems when they were happening.
9.                 In summer 1995, Freda Guttman, who had been Leonard’s first girlfriend when they
were both teenagers, stopped me in the street and asked point-blank if I thought REDACTED, as Lorca had told her friends. Based on things I had witnessed over 8 years, I thought it was possible. I went home and didn’t get out of bed for two days – the only time in my life that I experienced that kind of emotional paralysis. I suddenly realized the wild, extreme stories circulating about me were probably a tactic to discredit and isolate me in case I ever talked about Lorca. In fact, I knew very little about Lorca because I almost never saw her, but Leonard feared she had confided in me. He had set me up as a female bogeyman as a useful distraction. The stories about me had spread far and wide, thanks to Hazel’s media contacts including with a gossip columnist. The publishing industry was going through a major spasm from which it has never recovered and I become one of many journalist-casualties.
10.             In May 1996, I travelled to Los Angeles and stayed at Rinzai Ji Zen Center for six
months. I had a grant to write a novel (Dead White Males, DC Books, 2000), which I did while staying in a house across the street from the Zen Center. I also hoped to talk to Leonard and resolve some issues – I later realized this was naïve. This visit to Roshi’s centre was different from other times when I stayed as a practicing, rent-paying resident. Many of the monks and nuns seemed to have abandoned the Roshi (then 89) and gravitated to Leonard Cohen, who had moved into a cabin on Mount Baldy. I gathered he was seen by some as a possible dharma successor to the Roshi. The atmosphere had also changed for the worse. After Leonard spoke to her about me, a nun rushed at me in the kitchen and physically pushed me out the door. During the six months I was there, I never made a phone call or any attempt to speak to Leonard about the unresolved business between us that included child abuse and destructive slander. The atmosphere was instantly so tense, I decided to do nothing.  I rode my bike around Los Angeles and worked on the novel. Nevertheless, Leonard reported to the center director that I was now “phoning him every day from Culver City.” This was not the first time he assumed I was harassing him when I was not: I didn’t even know where Culver City was. Without any evidence, people believed Leonard. His word is the Gold Standard for Truth with his followers. Wherever he goes, from Greece to Montreal to Los Angeles, he finds people who are willing, even eager, to work for him without compensation, and will obey his instructions blindly in return for the honour of knowing him. His persuasive gifts and charm are well-known and can be hard to resist.
11.             Those who mutiny, like Kelley Lynch and me, receive the opposite treatment. Nothing
I say or do has been a match for the cliché of the “Scorned Woman” – or “jilted ex” who goes on a rampage to avenge her rejection. As Goebbels said, if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes truth. I have learned the hard way that Leonard Cohen is a very gifted and skilled fabricator who does not back down even when confronted with evidence of his lying. His manipulative skills are exceptional and almost suggest early training in psychological warfare, including strategies such as putting people in “double-bind” situations so they will discredit themselves.  As a friend, he can be very kind and generous, but soon becomes utterly fixated on control. He demands total loyalty. He is a master manipulator. Once he has decided you are too “mutinous” and a potential future threat, he becomes ruthless and will go to great lengths to see you neutralized and destroyed. Like his neo-con heroes, he believes in and practices “pre-emptive strikes.”
12.             In 2001, I wrote a book-length blog which I posted on line. This was due to my being
targeted for years by false stories that I had stalked and harassed Cohen who allegedly did not even know me. I felt my 20-year history with him made for a memoir which was also a documentary of the post-60s era and the transition to conservative values, in which Leonard Cohen had played a part. I posted this 300-page, detailed narrative and added internal links which were hard to navigate. I installed hit counters on every chapter so I know with certainty of 6000+ who found the book, only about 70 read to the end where I mentioned my chance meeting with Freda Guttman who repeated Lorca’s allegations that her father had molested her. In summer 2003, I received a letter from Leonard’s lawyer Van Penick asking me to remove the paragraph, which I did. A few months later, I deleted the entire blog.
13.             Did Kelley Lynch rob Leonard Cohen of millions, and if so, how did she end up
penniless and bit homeless? I can’t believe Leonard Cohen – a shrewd judge of character -- would employ a personal manager for 17 years, form a close relationship with her and her family, put his children in her care, and appoint her to deal with his daily business, unless she was diligent, extremely intelligent and impeccable in her conduct. His version requires us to believe he is a trusting, incompetent fool, which he is not. In my view, baseless slander and outrageous gossip have played a huge role in what should have been a straightforward legal matter.
14.             In my experience Leonard Cohen draws on a pool of unstable, addicted, celebrity-
worshipping acquaintances who serve as his unofficial bodyguards and ‘back-up band’ to his fanciful tales and ambiguous statements. Long ago, I came to the conclusion there are two distinct Leonard Cohens. The secret Leonard Cohen has doubtful ethics, and lives off the brilliance and charm of the public personality.
I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing is true and correct.
Dated:  25 April 2015                                                 _______________________________
                                                                                    ANNE JULIA MCLEAN


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Whatever Happened to Kelley Lynch?

Ann Diamond

Kelley Lynch is the woman accused in 2005 of skimming millions from singer Leonard Cohen’s retirement fund. I knew of her through friends of Leonard Cohen, and had heard her described in glowing terms as the agent who, singlehandedly, saved Cohen’s career in the 1990s.

In early May of this year, Lynch suddenly contacted me. She said she was mainly interested in my perceptions of Cohen as a former friend and next door neighbour in Montreal. At one time I also studied with his Zen Master in California, and had spent time with him on Hydra, Greece.

Not having heard her side of the story (I doubt that anyone has, apart from a circle of her closest friends), I was curious. Over the next few weeks, she shared several documents pertaining to the case including an affidavit written and signed by her older son, Rutger.
Together, they paint a picture very much at variance from the sketchy media image of Lynch as a reckless, delusional woman on the brink of a career meltdown. Lynch's own timeline also includes disturbing behind-the-scene dealings that suggest she may have been set up to take the blame for Cohen's tax situation.

The following account is based on what Lynch has sent me --

Since 2005 when she became the object of media gossip, little if anything has been heard from Kelley Lynch.

A single mother with two sons, Lynch was Leonard Cohen's personal manager from approximately 1988 to 2004, and was known for her skill, hard work, and dedication. Until 2004, Kelley lived and worked in Los Angeles where she still has many friends and acquaintances in the entertainment world including Phil Spector and Oliver Stone.

Her own account of the events that wrecked her career, varies widely from the media portrait of a reckless, delusional woman in the throes of a personal meltdown. The meltdown was real, however. By late December, 2005, Lynch had lost custody of one son and was homeless and living on the streets with her older son, Rutger, who witnessed the chain of bizarre events that had begun a year earlier. 

In 2004, Lynch owned a house in Brentwood, and still worked for Cohen, who owed her money for royalties and other services, but was increasingly involved with his new girlfriend, Anjani Thomas, ex-wife of Cohen’s attorney, Robert Kory.

In retrospect, Lynch believes she was set up by Cohen and his representatives to help cover up a tax situation which made the IRS “nervous.” In September 2004, Cohen’s attorney Weston told Lynch that a financial entity known as Traditional Holdings, LLC could be overturned by the IRS. Lynch, who had been selected as a partner on the entity, became uneasy and consulted a new accountant, who referred her to tax lawyers, who found irregularities in Cohen's tax history, both in the US and Canada where he has residences.

Rattled by what she was hearing – that she was being dragged into criminal tax fraud -- Lynch called the IRS in Washington and also contacted their website. An IRS collection agent advised her to call the Fraud Hotline, which she did.

Told that any further action on her part might implicate her in fraud, Lynch refused to meet with Cohen or turn over the corporate books. At that stage, Cohen’s advisers began claiming that certain payments, distributions, or advances made to her were actually "over-payments." Lynch says their accounting was incomplete and ignored her share of intellectual property, unpaid commissions and royalties, and share in Traditional Holdings, LLC. Apparently Lynch had also been issued K1 partnership tax documents and made a partner on another Cohen investment entity, LC Investments, LLC, without her permission or awareness.

Lynch says an increasingly nervous and desperate Cohen was pressuring her to agree to mediation and told a friend of hers that Lynch was "the love of his life." She and Cohen had had a brief affair in 1990, but Cohen now was offering her 50% of his "community property" as well as "palimony" through lawyer Robert Kory at a meeting attended by Lynch's legal representatives and her accountant, Dale Burgess. To Lynch, none of this made sense at the time.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles District Attorney's office received an anonymous tip informing them that Lynch was a friend of producer Phil Spector, whom Lynch maintains is innocent. Cohen, on the other hand, had given an interview in which he described a gun-waving Spector who threatened him during recording sessions in 1977.

At around the same time he was offering her “millions”, Lynch says, Cohen was also circulating slanderous stories about her. She believes Cohen encouraged Los Angeles record producer Steve Lindsey, the father of her son Ray, to initiate a custody suit – on May 25, 2005, the same day a 25-man SWAT team from the LAPD, acting on a bogus 911 call, suddenly cordoned off her street and surrounded her home in response to a "hostage taking."

Earlier that morning, Lynch says, her 12 year old son Ray woke up not feeling well. She sent an email to his school informing them she was keeping him at home. When the boy's father found out Ray was home he became agitated and abusive over the phone to Lynch.

Lynch says she had young people who worked for her coming and going that day, and did not want Ray’s father coming to the house and attacking her, as he had in the past. She called her older son Rutger, who was visiting a friend nearby, and asked him to pick Ray up and take him down the hill where actress Cloris Leachman waited in her car. Leachman, a friend of Lindsey, took charge of Ray – just as seven LAPD squad cars came speeding up Mandeville Canyon Road in the direction of Lynch’s house. With them was Ray’s father, Steve Lindsey.

Lynch says she looked out the window and saw armed men on her lawn. Her son Rutger and his friends were telling police there was no hostage-taking, that they had spent the morning with Lynch, and that there must be some mistake. For reasons no one understands, LAPD/Inglewood PD decided to believe Steve Lindsey, who had left the scene.

Police later gave varying explanations about what led up to the incident. West LAPD said they responded to a report that someone heard "shots fired." But a company that oversees SWAT said Lynch would have to have a superior caliber weapon to warrant such a high risk entry. A member of the SWAT team claimed to have seen a note that Lynch’s sister had placed the call stating Lynch posed “a danger to herself and everyone around her.” Her sister denies this.

Lynch stayed inside her house and called her former custody lawyer, Lee Kanon Alpert. She also called Leonard Cohen, assuming he had played a role in the events unfolding on her lawn. Lynch says she knew Steve Lindsey had also been meeting with Cohen and his attorney, and had recently told their son Ray that Lynch was “going to jail,” upsetting the boy. She says Cohen taped the phone call later used in his successful court case against her – for which, Lynch says, she never received a summons.
Lynch says, “Police were on my hillside and crouching under my kitchen window.” She says the standoff on her lawn continued for several more hours, disrupting the neighbourhood. Members of Inglewood Police Department also participated in the operation.

Eventually, she decided to go into the back yard. Seeing her son Rutger acting as a “human shield and hostage negotiator,” Lynch ventured out front with her Akita on leash and joked to the cops: "Who am I supposed to be holding hostage? My dog?"

The police responded by telling her son they would only shoot Lynch and her dog if necessary.

“That was when I dove into the pool.”

SWAT team members searched her house. As they entered, Lynch's African Grey parrot, Lou, called out: "I see dead people!" – further alarming the nervous cops.

Offering her a hand out of the pool, one officer said they were only there to help her and not to hurt her.

“No one asked me if I was all right; no one questioned me about my well-being.” The Medical Examiners Office later wondered how the police had evaluated her. After stating they were not arresting her, they handcuffed Lynch, still in her bikini. On her way out the door, her son managed to hand her a brocade jacket.

Although she lived near UCLA Medical Center, she was taken in a squad car to King-Drew Medical Centre in Watts, 40 miles away and a three-hour drive in traffic. Known as one of America’s worst hospitals, King-Drew was recently closed down as a place where patients routinely die from neglect and medical errors. During the long ride through South Central Los Angeles, Lynch says she was questioned closely about her relationship with Phil Spector, who had been charged with first degree murder of Lana Clarkson. In the car, Lynch voiced concern over what awaited her at the hospital but was told by a woman cop: "This will be good for you."

“I felt I was being kidnapped”.

At Emergency, the admitting psychiatrist administered anti-psychotic drugs without authorization and left Lynch in the waiting area for hours, still in her bikini and brocade jacket, and handcuffed to a chair. A nurse advised her she would be transferred – but did not tell her where. Examining her file, the nurse noticed it listed her as 19 years old with wrong social security number, wrong date of birth, wrong religion, and her name misspelled as "Kelly Lynch" Lynch thinks it was the same file she had seen, several months earlier, in the hands of the Special Investigator who came to question her about Spector.

A second doctor told her to wait her turn to ensure no further harm would come to her, and assured her that nothing in the King Drew report could cause her to lose custody of her child. The following day, she was released after nearly 24 hours in the psych ward.

Back home, Lynch learned that while she was being held at the hospital her younger son's father, Steven Clark Lindsey, had filed for custody of her son Ray Charles Lindsey and obtained a restraining order denying her access to the boy. She says Lindsey attempted to convince doctors at King Drew that she was dangerous, in order to have her committed, She says Lindsey also threatened the psychiatrist who had her released.

On that same day, Cohen’s attorney Robert Kory filed a Declaration in the custody matter, as did Betsy Superfon (a friend of Cohen, Kory and Lindsey who had befriended Lynch a few months earlier ). Superfon later told Lynch she didn't realize what she was signing, and that Cohen had offered Lindsey money “or something else” to take Ray away from Lynch.

Her older son alleges Lindsey offered him money to go to Leonard Cohen's lawyer's office and transfer or sign over Lynch’s house to Cohen or his attorney Robert Kory. Rutger refused and phoned his own father, who advised him to contact a lawyer.

Two weeks later, in early June, as she drove down her street to buy dog food, a Mercedes sped out of a neighbouring driveway and rear-ended her car, Lynch was thrown forward, fracturing her nose against the steering well, and was knocked unconscious. Later, she says, as she drove back up the hill to her home, the same driver was standing in his driveway and called out: “We are watching you” as she passed.

Seeing his injured, bleeding mother enter the house, her older son again phoned his father, who may have called 911. Accounts vary as whether the call referred to an incident of "domestic violence" or a "drug overdose." Either way, police arrived at Lynch’s door for the second time in two weeks. Over the protests of her son, they entered while she was on the phone to a friend, Dr. Wendi Knaak who stayed on the phone talking with Rutger while police again handcuffed Lynch. This time they took her to UCLA hospital where her obvious head injuries were ignored. Instead, she was once again drugged and placed in the psychiatric unit where she remained for several days.

Lynch and her advisors maintain these events were coordinated by Cohen, Kory and Lindsey, with the help of former LA District Attorney Ira Reiner in a well- orchestrated plan to traumatize and discredit her – paving the way for media stories which accused her of skimming millions from Cohen’s retirement fund.

In the summer of 2005, as Lynch was struggling to save her home and protect her child from a father her friends describe as "viciously anti-social" and “violent”, reports of Leonard Cohen's financial troubles hit the press. They alleged the 70-something singer had been scammed by his personal manager, Kelley Lynch, who colluded with an advisor at the AGILE Group in Colorado to send him false financial statements while emptying his accounts of millions of dollars.

Although listed as the owner of Traditional Holdings, the entity in question, Lynch says she never received any statements from the AGILE Group -- who instead had been sending them to Cohen -- having changed her mailing address to Cohen's home in Los Angeles. She has since filed a complaint with the US Post Office for mail tampering.

NOTE:  It actually appeared to be Leonard Cohen who changed Lynch's mailing address (or attempted to) as USPS advised her that someone was attempting to have it changed to from her home to Cohen's home address in Los Angeles.

She insists Cohen sued her because she went to the IRS about his tax situation. She says he is not, and never was, "broke" and that missing funds went to buy homes for his son Adam Cohen and girlfriend, singer Anjani Thomas, ex-wife of Robert Kory. Noting Cohen is famous for his financial largesse and once gave Zen Master Sasaki Roshi $500,000 as a gift, Lynch also cites hefty payments to advisers, various transaction fees, personal taxes, and other monies which may have been sent offshore.

While Cohen and Lindsey attempted to persuade others, including LA Superior Court, that she intended to flee to Tibet or another non-extradition country, Lynch was isolated and penniless and still in Los Angeles. Lynch was former personal secretary to the late Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a flamboyant Tibetan spiritual teacher who founded Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado in the 1970s, and died in 1987. She says various Tibetan lamas are praying for her safety.

NOTE:  Kelley Lynch was a student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, His Holiness Kusum Lingpa's personal assistant, and is His Holiness Kusum Lingpa's lineage holder and chos kyi dags mos.

Journalists covering the story were either unable, or didn't bother, to track Lynch down, and most reported Cohen's statements as fact. The NY Times contacted Kelley for a quote which they never printed

By July 2005, Lynch had lost her custody battle and Ray went to live with his father. On December 28, she and Rutger were evicted from the house in Brentwood, and ended up homeless in Santa Monica, which has no resources for the homeless. The Police Department gave her no help and, she claims, laughed when she brought in evidence that she was being stalked by a known serial killer while she camped on the beach.

In 2006, Cohen was awarded a symbolic $9 million settlement in a civil suit against Lynch, who still does not have a lawyer representing her. Corporate books and other evidence of fraud appear to have been overlooked by Judge Ken Freeman in his judgment, Lynch says, although she admits she has not read the court documents and was never served a summons. At the time of the decision, she told reporters she lacked the money to make a phone call. That same year, her older son lost his fingers in an accident with a meat grinder while he was working at Whole Foods in Los Angeles and Lynch could not afford a bus ticket to visit him in hospital.

Lynch heard through a journalist that Cohen later testified for the District Attorney’s office in a secret grand jury relating to the Phil Spector case with former District Attorney Ira Reiner acting as his lawyer. Reiner is a personal friend of Cohen, and as D.A. presided over some high-profile cases including the “Night Stalker” serial killer and the McMartin Day Care scandal.

Recently, on June 17, 2008, Cohen's lawsuit against the Agile Group was thrown out of court for lack of evidence. In response the AGILE Group dropped its counter-suit accusing Cohen of defamation and fraud. AGILE still claims to be shocked that a singer of Leonard Cohen's talent and stature would engage in false accusations against his own representatives.

Lynch believes Cohen and AGILE colluded to defraud her. She continues to deny all allegations against her, and remains hopeful that Phil Spector's lawyer, Bruce Cutler, will represent her in recouping damages to her livelihood and reputation. She now lives in another state and recently learned her younger son, 15, whom she has not seen since July 2005, stopped attending school last January.

These days Cohen’s fans seem to have expended their rage at Kelley Lynch for driving their idol into bankruptcy. Some now say she unwittingly did them a service -- by forcing him to go on tour for the first time in nearly two decades.

At 74, singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen continues to ride a wave of sympathy, gathering wide support from the music world and even some British royalty. Unquestionably, his career and finances have benefited from news reports that he is too impoverished to retire.

From his tower of song, Cohen has written:

I smile when I'm angry
I cheat and I lie
I do what I have to do
To get by

And I’m always alone
And my heart is like ice
And it’s crowded and cold
In my secret life

My Secret Life. Leonard Cohen

His many admirers need to listen closely.

 NOTE:  KL and Cohen were never lovers.  


Layton at 80: singing songs of love
Ann Diamond

Going to interview Irving Layton, I had the feeling I was about to meet my maker. It's almost the same feeling I qet when I see my bank manager. In both cases, the question of debt arises.

If there had been no Irving Layton back in the `60s when I was deciding what to do with my life I might have gone straight into real estate with barely a qualm. But as it happened, our country was suffering a poetry craze, the like of which has never been seen before or since. Long before I reached the age of reason, I decided to reverse the usual Anglo-Saxon order, and put "imagination" ahead of "survival" on my priorities list. In part, Layton is responsible for my having made this fatal mistake.

I find him at home with his fifth wife, Anna Pottier, in a happy expansive mood. He's just been inducted into Italy's prestigious Institute Pertini, whose members include the great names in world literature and politics: Solzhienitsyn, Dubcek, Saul Bellow. The news arrives as Layton is firming up plans to go to Italy in April where he will launch a bilingual edition, in English and Italian, of his book The Baffled Hunter.
It turns out that Irving and I have something in common besides poetry. We both went to Baron Byng High School. He entered in the fall of 1925, and 40 years later it was my turn. My suburban neighborhood in the mid-'60s had no Protestant high school, so we commuted to Baron Byng. That's how I was first inoculated with the smells, the peculiar energy of St. Urbain St. and its displaced Mediterranean cultures: the school was then divided among Jews, Greeks and francophone Moroccans, who moved in separate, but mutually respectful worlds. To me it was exotic and a far cry from the `burbs, and once I'd gained entry I was reluctant to come back out.

It was during Grade 8 at Baron Byng that I first heard of Irving Layton and Mordecai Richler, two writers who were helping to create a new, cosmopolitan Canadian literature. So it's strange to think of Irving Layton turning 80 on March 6. Or is it March 12?

I decide it's time to resolve the mystery surrounding Layton's birth. "When is your birthday, Irving?"

"My birthday is on the 6th of March but Stalin died on the 12th and since he's been my bete noire for a long time, I like to celebrate both at once."

Come to think of it, Layton has always celebrated things that others prefer to keep in the closet. After all, it's the poet's job and he's been at it for 65 years.

"The true poet is absolutely tenacious," says Layton. "He's like a sentinel. He doesn't abandon his post. 

He continues to speak the truth, just like the prophets. That's my religion."

Certainly no one can match his singleness of purpose. Layton calls his poetic output "an all-time record." 

He has written 60 books, and a bibliography of his work, soon to be released, runs to 700 pages.
Are his poems really bits of divine revelation? To sit across the table from him is to entertain that possibility very seriously. To drink from his silver teapot is to catch some of his enthusiasm as he reads poems that still resonate from some ancient place of exile where a biblical harp keeps chiming and God plays an intricate chessgame with words.

Since Layton's heyday, unquestionably, love of poetry has receded in our country. In the early '60s, poetry in Canada outsold fiction and non-fiction. People by the hundreds flocked to readings. In the '90s, despite government funding, the audience for poetry continues shrinking. Many would say poor quality is to blame. The current cult of "self-expression" banalizes poetry as therapy or consolation.
"At one time," Layton recalls, "there was a lot of ferment and poets were at the centre of it. Myself and Leonard Cohen and Louis Dudek and Eli Mandel from Toronto and Phyllis Webb who'd come in from Vancouver. A nice happy band of happy warriors.

"We felt we were changing things. We were bringing down the stale Victorianism that had dominated this country for over half a century. We were liberating energies, freeing the imagination. There were people opposed to us of course, people who felt we were treading on their orthodox toes and were furious about it."

Banned in Ontario

Some of Layton's books were banned in Ontario. "I think there's no higher compliment than that," he says. The poet's job, as he sees it, is always to destroy complacency and his commitment to contradiction remains immense. He fulminates, he pontificates, but he's also a passionate listener.

I bring out my Big Question. Are the Victorians back in control of Canadian poetry?

"They may be," he concedes. "But basically the poets have lost their elan. They're not writing the kind of work that stirs people or quickens their pulse in any way. They're not writing the kind of poetry that challenges economic and political and social and religious and sexual taboos. What they're writing I call kitchen- sink poetry, and it springs from the fact that people are so frightened about the future and about the present, they're so uncertain about themselves, that they can't think deeply and freshly about the problems confronting them."

He names exceptions: David Solway, Anne Cimon, Michael Harris. But he sees contemporary poetry taking the place of organized religion as a provider of comfort and reassurance. "Real poetry, like true religion, does the opposite. It tells people that precisely because you're suffering and in turmoil, that's good. It means you're not dead."

The interview has ended, or at least the tape has run out. We rewind it so Irving can hear how he sounds these days. With obvious delight, he listens to his own voice describing the Grade 6 teacher, Miss Benjamiri, who inspired his first poem. He lingers on details, her tight blouse and lush breasts, which inspired his 12- year-old lust. If I were an unmitigated Puritan, like some of his critics, I suppose I might attack him for this, but who can deny that it's touching and true?

A serial monogamist?

Afterwards he beams. "I believe I have to be the last love poet anywhere. Love has always been the very foundation of my work."

"Don't forget rage," I remind him.

"Love and rage and - sex. What else is there?" To prove his point, he'll be launching Dance With Desire, his collected love poems, at Magnum Bookstore in Ottawa tomorrow. That's International Women's Day.

This coincidence of dates brings us to the thorny issue of Layton's record in relationships, a sore point with feminists. I ask him point blank if he's a serial monogamist.

"Yes." he says. "But I have yet to be convicted."

"And I'm his latest victim," Anna chimes in, smiling radiantly.

Says Layton in self-defence, "I like to leave them happy, rather than dead."

In Canada, the verdict still isn't in on Irving Layton, and some would say there isn't a jury in the country that could give him a fair trial. Attempts to put him in his place or "expose" him all stumble against the reality of his achievement. Elspeth Cameron's notorious portrait did much to prove that there is still little room in our country for a poet of his range and stature.

You can accuse a poet of the most heinous crimes and personal failings without doing the slightest damage to his reputation. Perhaps some day Canada's army of critic/moralists will realize that they've missed the 20th century. We don't need poets to live exemplary, much less conventional, lives. We need them to write great poems. Irving Layton has kept his side of the bargain.

When I finally leave, I have the impression that I've been taken in again - duped into believing in poetry by someone who calls himself Irving Layton.

And the funny thing is, I'm grateful.

Ann Diamond is a Montreal poet.