Leonard Cohen Wrote a Poem about Kanye West in 2015

"Kanye West Is Not Picasso" is a poem about egomania and the idea of genius.

Leonard Cohen (Photo by Rob Verhorst/Redferns)
Leonard Cohen (Photo by Rob Verhorst/Redferns)

A posthumously released poem finds Leonard Cohen taking on Kanye West and the archetype of the male genius. The audaciously titled “Kanye West Is Not Picasso” was penned in 2015 and is now part of a poetry collection titled The Flame by the late singer/songwriter, who died in 2016.

In the poem, Cohen challenges not only notions of Kanye’s genius, but also that of Picasso, Thomas Edison, Jay-Z, Bob Dylan, and even himself. The poem begins with the lines, “Kanye West is not Picasso/ I am Picasso/ Kanye West is not Edison/ I am Edison.” Later in the stanza Cohen writes, “I am the Kanye West of Kanye West/ The Kanye West/ Of the great bogus shift of bullshit culture/ From one boutique to another.” Cohen’s work is clearly grappling with the egomania of artistry, most plainly embodied by West.

Perhaps the most striking fact about the poem is its title, which references Kanye’s relationship to Picasso’s art a year before West released his album The Life of Pablo.

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