Leonard Cohen: Singapore writers and musicians pay tribute to him

Leonard Cohen performing at the Glastonbury Festival 2008 in Somerset, south-west England, on June 29, 2008. PHOTO: REUTERS

Canadian singer, songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen's death was deeply felt among those in the music and literary scene here.

Alvin Pang, poet, editor and Young Artist of the Year (Literature) recipient:

"When Bob Dylan got the Nobel, many of us in the literary scene felt that we would have gone with Leonard ourselves. Partly because we're fans, partly because we think that his work is, from a literary point of view, much more nuanced and interesting.

It's always arguable of course, but the point is we regard him with that level of seriousness in that sense. Bob Dylan was more influential culturally and broadly but we have a soft spot for Leonard Cohen, we think he's a better writer."

Yeow Kai Chai, Singapore Writers Festival director and music critic:

"For me, he encapsulated two of my deepest loves, poetry and music. He presented excellence in both areas, an equal embrace of the profane and existential, from sexuality to religion, always with a twinkle in his eye."


  • Saturday Nov 12, 7pm -- 8pm, Gallery II, The Arts House, Admission: FREE

    Leonard Cohen, one of the world's pre-eminent singer-songwriters, had left behind an estimable body of works which has influenced generations of creative writers. In this special memorial reading, seven Singaporean writers - Marc Nair, Desmond Kon, Yong Shu Hoong, Joshua Ip, O Thiam Chin, Deborah Emmanuel and Pooja Nansi - will pay tribute to the legend by reading some of his works as well as their own responses.

Kelvin Tan, singer, songwriter, musician and author:

"The power of Cohen's art, lay not just in his music and lyrics, which had elevated popular music into the pantheon of true poetic literariness, but also in the fact, that he, like Bob Dylan, was a true visionary who looked beyond the music, and raised the art form to the status of true greatness. And he did it with infinite soul, and lived it in his long, fruitful life."

Alvin Wong, singer, songwriter and editor of watch magazine Crown:

"Seven years ago, my wife and I had the chance to watch him live, performing at a vineyard in Australia. Then, despite being well advanced in years, Cohen skipped onto the stage and proceeded to lead his band through a three-hour set. He went through his catalogue as a seasoned pro would - Hallelujah, Bird On A Wire, I'm Your Man and more. By the end of it all, he left the crowd emotionally spent and spiritually uplifted."

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