The final book of poetry Leonard Cohen wrote, put together himself and finished in the months before his death last November will hit shelves next year.
McClelland and Stewart said Friday it will release The Flame on Oct. 16, 2018.
The publishing house describes the book as “a stunning collection of Cohen’s last poems, selected and ordered by the author in the final months of his life.”
The book also has excerpts from his notebooks as well as the full lyrics to his final three albums and those written by Cohen for the album “Blue Alert” by his collaborator Anjani.
Readers will also get to see prose pieces and illustrations by the Montreal-born “Hallelujah” singer-songwriter, who died Nov. 7 at age 82.
“He actually had been talking about it for a year, and then once ‘You Want It Darker’ was released and his album got such favourable response, he said, ‘I want to jump into a book,”’ Robert Kory, Cohen’s manager and trustee of the Cohen estate, said Friday in a phone interview from Los Angeles.
“It deals intensely with the most personal issues,” added Kory. “It brings joy, it makes me laugh, it makes me cry.”
Poetry was Cohen’s “first love” and he had “a deep need for solitude” in putting the book together, said Kory, who began representing him as a lawyer at the end of 2004 and became his manager.
“He saw maybe two or three people. In finishing the book, he just narrowed the people that he saw,” said Kory.
Cohen published more than a dozen novels and books of poetry and recorded nearly two dozen albums.
Kory said the material for the new poetry collection came from Cohen’s vast collection of notebooks that he had started transcribing digitally many years ago.
“For a poetry book, it’s going to be a long book,” said Kory. “It’s going to be a significant work. People will really be able to enjoy it.”
Cohen wrote the poems “as recent as days before he passed away and as early as probably the 1970s,” said Kory, noting the multi-faceted artist was always returning to his older poems to rework them.
“His passing was unexpected. It’s not like his mind ever weakened. He was crystal clear, at the top of his game, to the very last moments of his life.”
The illustrations that will be in the book come from a collection of self-portraits Cohen did.
“The comic side of Leonard Cohen,” said Kory.
“There’s this marvellous collection of self-portraits and he says, ‘You should publish these as a comic book.’ They are absolutely so funny.”
McClelland and Stewart publisher Jared Bland said The Flame is “full of Leonard Cohen’s signature combination of grace, humour, wisdom, and heartbreaking insight into the fragility and beauty of this world we all share.”
“It will endure as a testament to his humanity and genius, and delight his millions of fans around the world,” said Bland.
Asked if this is absolutely Cohen’s final book, Kory quipped: “Well, what does the word ‘final’ mean?”
“It’s his final book insofar as it’s a book where he selected all the elements, he worked on all the pages and had their order and so forth,” he said. “Anything else, we would have an editor who would have to take existing work from his archives.”