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Τρίτη, 13 Ιουνίου 2017

Μεγάλο αφιέρωμα του Guardian στην Ύδρα και τον Λ. Κοέν: Hydra Hallelujah: superfans keep Leonard Cohen's spirit alive in Greece

Το κείμενο είναι από: https://www.theguardian.com
Fans of the late musician have been gathering on his former Greek island home to sing his songs, swap stories about him and unveil a bench overlooking the sea
Αround of applause broke out when the barman at the Roloi cafe hoisted a small red and white flag over the waterfront taverna – the unified heart symbol that the Canadian songwriter Leonard Cohen used on the cover of one of his early poetry collections.
The first tourists of the season, a dozen at most, were gathered beneath it on the Greek island of Hydra where Cohen, who was yet to soar to fame as one of the most lyrical songwriters of his generation, arrived in 1960 to work on his poetry and novels.
This small group of travellers had not arrived at the Roloi by chance. Within the next few days, another 200 would join them on a kind of pilgrimage to this island beloved by the singer, who died last November.
One by one or in small groups, some with guitars slung over their shoulders, they made their way to the island from Japan, Holland and Australia, from Canada, Germany and Ireland, from Britain, Lithuania, France, from the US, and above all from Finland.
That is because the gathering – their eighth on the island since 2002 – was organised by Cohen’s biggest fan club, the Leonard Cohen Forum, which is run out of a small brick house in a suburb of Helsinki.

That is where Jarkko Arjatsalo, teaching himself how to make a website back in 1995, decided to fill the gap left by a defunct English fanzine by creating a site for Cohen. No one was more surprised than Arjatsalo when, two years later, an email landed from Cohen himself.
“In 1997, he emailed from the Buddhist retreat at Mount Baldy and asked, if he sent us material, would we put it up on the site,” said Arjatsalo, a retired accountant. “Well, you can guess what the answer was.”
The first item to arrive in Finland was the manuscript of the song Suzanne, one of the most famous in the songwriter’s repertoire. More followed. In all, Cohen sent 20 manuscripts and 50 drawings, said Arjatsalo, who wears a silver ring given to him by the musician he met more than 40 times.
Cohen was 26 when he arrived on Hydra in 1960, joining a small group of expatriate artists who had moved there when the port consisted of four coffee houses and a taverna. Water was delivered by donkey and homes were lit by kerosene or oil.
Using a $1,500 bequest from his grandmother, Cohen purchased an old stone house without running water, plumbing or electricity. There, Cohen worked on his poetry and novels in the garden, swam in the afternoons, and met up with the Australian writers George Johnston and Charmian Clift at the Roloi – which at the time was a grocery store called Katsikas with a handful of tables out the front.
“The years are flying past and we all waste so much time wondering if we dare to do this or that,” Cohen said of his decision to buy the house, according to his Canadian-American biographer, Ira B Nadel. “The thing is to leap, to try, to take a chance.”
For Cohen, who at this time considered himself a writer rather than a musician, it was a productive period. During roughly seven years on Hydra he wrote a controversial poetry collection titled Flowers for Hitler; his first novel, The Favourite Game; and a book about religion and sexuality called Beautiful Losers.
It was also on Hydra that Cohen fell in love with Marianne Ihlen, the beautiful Norwegian woman who became his muse and was later immortalised in his ballad, So Long, Marianne.


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