Demetris Tsimperis, Greece

The year was 1988, the place was Thessaloniki, and I was only eighteen. One night a friend invited me at his place to listen to a record that had just been released: LEONARD COHEN “I’M YOUR MAN”. I had never heard that name before but when a deep voice started singing the first lines of the first song: “They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom/ for trying to change the system from within…” one thing became clear to me: This man was going to take, if not Manhattan, at least a part of my heart.

But who was he? My friend couldn’t tell me more than he was a Canadian -Jew, a poet, a writer and a troubadour. A poet who sings his lines, a writer who composes music? He must be a “phenomenon” then!

The next day I got all the albums he had released until then. But it wasn’t so easy to find any of his books, in English I mean, there was no question about finding any of his books translated into Greek

“Maybe I should try one day to translate them” was my thought then - which turned into a strong wish when later I learned that the man had lived in Greece. He even owned a house on Hydra! But then why wasn’t he as known as he should be in my country?

Many years later I found myself in Canada. I was breathing the same air now and could pic-ture better lines like these: “It’s dark and it’s snowing / I’ve got to be going / St.Lawerence River is starting to freeze”

But where was Leonard? Nobody seemed to know. Then, one evening, while searching for Cohen-related stuff in Toronto’s Public Library, I found a site: “The Leonard Cohen Files” main-tained by a guy, Jarkko Arjatsalo was his name, somewhere in Finland. At last! All I was looking for about the man and his work was there, before my eyes. Even Leonard himself!

Yes, Mr.Cohen, who in the meantime had re-treated to a Zen monastery, was blackening pages in the brave new world of Internet from his Mt.Baldy cabin!

And what’s more, there was a whole community of people who liked his work gathered around that superb site. Heavens! I wasn’t the only one in the world looking for him!

I could never imagine that evening in the library that one day I would get to meet those people on Hydra!

Since then my life took many turns. Back to Greece, in various hotels, with a woman and the- with Matisse’s paintings book - “Dance me to the end of Love” lying on the bed - a smell of tobacco and cognac filling up the room and Leonard’s voice in the background.

Now the year is 2002, the place Kozani and I am already 32. The woman and the book “are de-parted or gone”. I don’t ever listen to that song now. Times have changed. Even Leonard’s voice has gone deeper - but it is always there in the room. His books are still not translated into Greek. I still want to translate them one day.

I love Leonard Cohen’s poetry and I forgot what I started telling you. Goodbye.


Ulf Cronquist, Sweden

I went to Hydra for the first time in 1994. I was working on a collection of poetry in Swedish but I also wrote in English.

This short one is particularly inspired by Leonard Cohen. It now exists in several versions in English and Swedish but I never seem to get it right anyway.

Poem for Us

You are for.
I am till.
It is it.

(Dirty Corner's, Hydra 1994)

Hydra 2002


the trace of a paperclip
no......not that

Anna and Ulf (Wolf) Cronquist

Photo © Kim Solez


Paul Biesta, Italy

Anna Comello and Paul Biesta

Photo © Kim Solez

As a bird on a wire,
waiting for the miracle to come,
the great event,
where, one by one, the guests arrive.
We came so far for beauty
coming back to you
and the smokey life
Field Commander Cohen,
Canadien errant,
if it be your will...

Click for more