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What started as a personal journey of a doctor turned patient morphed into a way to share what’s universal in dealing with cancer, in my case a nasty leukemia (CLL), a failed transplant and a successful clinical trial. The telling of my journey has become a journey to teach about CLL, related blood issues and all cancers. Please visit our new website http://cllsociety.org for the latest news and information. Smart patients get smart care™. If you want to reach me, email bkoffmanMD@gmail.com
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His five years in seclusion left a gaping lacuna in the musician’s eclectic career. Few people know why Cohen, born to a Jewish family in Montreal, ensconced himself in the monastery’s regimen of meditation and reflection. But “Drawing From the Heart,” a new exhibition of Cohen’s art at Claremont McKenna, throws light on that chapter of his life.
With more than 50 prints of Cohen’s paintings and drawings, the show is a broad survey of his work during the last 40 years. Recurring motifs include the female nude and self-portraits of the artist’s wizened face. But there are also cryptic, slyly comic references to his time on Mt. Baldy.
In one work, “Dear Roshi,” Cohen depicts a nude goddess ...
... alongside a brief letter to his elderly monastery instructor. In the letter, Cohen calls himself “a useless monk” and asks Roshi’s forgiveness for meeting (and presumably falling in love with) a woman.
“Leonard has a wry sense of humor. There’s a clarity and tremendous cutting humor in his work, even amidst the brokenness,” said Bob Faggen, the organizer of the show and a friend of Cohen.
Concurrent with the exhibition is the Southern California premiere of Philip Glass’ song cycle “Book of Longing,” based on Cohen’s 2006 volume of poetry. Glass will perform on keyboard with eight musicians and four singers. (The Feb. 25 through March 1 concerts are at the Garrison Theater, a few blocks from the art show at the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum.)
Glass said the idea for the song cycle originated in a long conversation he had at Cohen’s L.A. home. The project was put on hold when Cohen entered the monastery but was revived after the publication of his book. “People don’t read poetry books chronologically, and I wanted to replicate that experience, as if the listener was subjected to random shuffling,” said Glass. The song cycle takes 22 poems and arranges them into thematic chapters dealing with love, Dharma, ballads and Cohen’s biography.
Like his visual art, Cohen’s poems make direct references to his reclusive Zen period. In the song “I Came Down From the Mountain,” he writes about his exodus from the monastery and his moment of self-realization: “I finally understood / I had no gift / for Spiritual Matters.”
Cohen, 74, was recently in Australia on a world tour and didn’t respond to requests for an interview. Apparently, Jikan the Silent One lives on.
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