Ira Cohen

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Kathmandu c1979
Poems from the Alashic Record

Ira Harvey Cohen (Born February 3, 1935 - Died, New York City, USA, April 25, 2011).

"Ira Cohen made phantasmagorical films that became cult classics. He developed a way of taking photographs in mesmerizing, twisting colors, including a famous one of Jimi Hendrix. He published works by authors like William Burroughs and the poet Gregory Corso. He wrote thousands of poems himself. He wrote “The Hashish Cookbook” under the name Panama Rose. He called himself “the conscience of Planet Earth.”

"But his most amazing work of art was inarguably Mr. Cohen himself. NY Arts magazine in 2008[1] called his life “a sort of white magic produced by an alchemist who turned his back on the establishment in order to find God, art and poetry.”

"He died of renal failure in Manhattan on April 25 at the age of 76, his family said.[2]

"Ira Cohen was buried beside his parents & grandparents in Mt. Lebanon Cemetery in Queens, April 27, 2011. During the funeral, a single majestic hawk soared above the open grave ... several of us mourners saw it hovering on the the thermal winds. How fitting, this spirit bird, how totally Ira"![3]



  • Memorial Service for Ira Cohen at The Living Theatre, Lower East Side, New York City, February 5, 2012.


Blog Posts

  • Shivaratri 1979 by Ira Cohen. "This is a big poem full of tourists & cameras set on tripods...".


  • Bombay Brian wrote
“Ira has gone to a better place now. He is with Jasper (Jasper Newsome), Paul G. (Paul Giraud), Roberto, Ganesh Baba and all the rest in 'Chillum Heaven’. RIP Ira. Om Shanti.” - Bombay Brian
  • Eddie Woods wrote
This morning I received the below appended mail from Ira Landgarten. I’d been expecting it for days, but hoping against hope for a miracle.
In due course I shall write extensively about Ira. He and I go back such a very long way. And despite the fact that we hadn’t been on speaking terms for many years, I continued to love him as a special kind of brother and to greatly respect and admire his artistic talents and his work. In short, we were connected at the hip. Nor will his passing in any way change that. ‘Speaking terms’ means nothing, it’s what’s in the heart that counts.
  • Keith Dowman wrote
Ira Cohen cut a bizarre figure in black and silver masque in Kathmandu in the 70s. Yet with hindsight, despite himself, Ira Cohen could undoubtedly be called an incarnation of Guru Rinpoche, the centre of one of the many mandalas of Kathmandu freakdom. Ira Cohen was also a poet of the moment and a poet for us all in the Valley at that time and, yes, a great poet. How to describe and assess the strange walk that he walked remains wide open but he was one of the few who actually walked what he talked. RIP
  • Ira Landgarten wrote
Approximately a month ago, Ira, who for some time has been living up on 106th St. in a somewhat diminished capacity since last summer's infamous bedbug plague, apparently tripped or fell in the apartment & injured his right knee.
When his pain didn't abate, he was finally cajoled into going to the hospital for an exam & x-ray. As nothing particularly noteworthy showed up, he went back home for some days, during which time, what might have started as an abrasion on his knee, became infected—his underlying diabetes exacerbated a small wound that for most of us would have healed-up with little consequence.
A visiting nurse, strongly advised he needed attention & he was brought to St. Lukes up on 114 & Amsterdam Ave. He'd been on a slow, tortuous down-ward spiral since...laid-low by an unspecified infection & a cascade of other serious ailments.
This evening, April 25, 2011, at about 6:30 he breathed his last...
There will be a small, private burial service & a future memorial/tribute to be announced...


  • Robert Beer wrote
I just got the news that Ira died in NY at 7pm last night, 25th April, Easter Monday. He had been in hospital for the last week with a leg infection & died there. His health had not been good for the last year or two & it was hard for him to get around.
I last saw Ira at his apartment in Nov 2009 & he had a care-person helping to look after him at that time. The world changes, but the memories of times spent together over nearly forty years will always remain fresh. Ira was a great and important figure in my life, ruthlessly honest, fearless and funny, and always able to hold so many characters in his heart and mind. He was ever sweet and kind to me & the journey we shared together will never end.
  • Nico Morrison wrote
I met Ira Cohen twice, at his shows at The October Gallery in Bloomsbury; both times I was notified by Robert Beer & both times Jasper Newsome was there.
The first time Jasper was drunk & belligerent & heckling & Ira handled him wonderfully kindly & firm.
The second & last time I saw Ira, he did a wonderful reading, upstairs at The October Gallery & Jasper turned up a late but sober & beatific & he was wonderful. I felt so close to him, we had so much history; and as Ira declaimed & sweated his poetic truths, I hugged Jasper, he looked like a great old cuddly eagle, now myopic & stooped but still able to fly!
Later that evening, after Iras show, I gave Jasper a lift to Marble Arch to catch his bus back to Oxford; it was a cold winters night in January 2004. That was the last time I saw Jasper Newsome & Ira Cohen.
  • Steve Madras Devas wrote
I was talking about Ira with Chandra the day he died (Chandra worked that one out;) she was close to him and Petra in Goa. I remember hanging out in the Om brothers restaurant in Kathmandu, spring of 1975 from memory, and going to poetry readings with him, Petra, Roberto & Tancha and Anglus Mclise among others.
I liked his poems, even though I didn't always 'understand' them, but that's no necessarily the point in poetry. His delivery, his presence, his gestures, his theatricality -- it was poetry of the moment: exotic, stimulating and very arresting. A true original. RIP
  • Neil Rock wrote
Ira and his then girlfriend Rose, writing The Hashish Cookbook, lived nearby me in the Tangier Medina in 1961 or ’62. Ira’s later intenseness and mumbling was maybe being influenced by his early space and time investigations and those of other adventurous voyagers present at that time.
We were a community whose common cause was floating around the Medina on a wide and interesting variety of local and foreign exotic magic carpets. Gyroscopes were sometimes unbalanced by use of untested products; often there was unsurity of destination, altitude or where we would land.
  • Paul Guerin wrote
I knew Ira in Kathmandu in the early 70s. We had a number of friends in common, Allen Ginsberg, Princess Zena Rachevsky and a few others. He went everywhere with German Petra his alter-ego. The two of them dressed in black from head to toe. Petra looking like a shade from another world, Ira scowling through his thick black beard, muttering some account of injustice or unrighteous action, planning poetry events, publishing poems with John Chick or some other shipwrecked poet.
Just his appearance on the scene was theater. Irascible but somehow lovable he was the Ancient Mariner of the Himalayas and like the Ancient Mariner he had many dark tales to tell.



External Links


  1. NY ARTS - May/June 2008.
  2. New York Times Obituary - 1st May 2011.
  3. Email from Ira Landgarten - 28th April 2011.
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