Leonard Cohen passed away in 2016, but the game-changing songwriter left behind a trove of unpublished material. That included several poems, the likes of which were recently published in a collection, The Flame, which counts among its pieces one called “Kanye West Is Not Picasso.”
“I am the Kanye West of Kanye West/The Kanye West of the great bogus shift of bullshit culture,” it reads. Later, Cohen ropes Jay-Z, saying the rapper “is not the Dylan of anything.”
Cohen wrote the poem in March of 2015, right around the same time West made a headline-grabbing lecture at Oxford University. His piece seems to have been directly inspired by some of West’s comments to the students. “My goal, if I was going to do art, fine art, would have been to become Picasso or greater,” West told the class. “That always sounds so funny to people, comparing yourself to someone in the past that has done so much, and in your life you’re not even allowed to think that you can do as much. That’s a mentality that suppresses humanity.”
The Flame is out now from Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Read the full poem below via songwriter Amanda Shires.
Update 10/12: Here, enjoy Michael Shannon reading the poem.