The New & Improved PEN New England Leonard Cohen – Chuck Berry Song Lyrics Award Medal

The Current PEN New England Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award Medal

Ongoing readers may recall yesterday’s post featured the medal (shown above) bestowed upon Leonard Cohen and Chuck Berry as the first recipients of the Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award at the Kennedy Library ceremony on February 26, 2012.

The New & Improved PEN New England Lyrics Award Medal

As I noted in that entry, I grasp the notion of elegant simplicity, and a gold medal is a gold medal. Yet, I cannot help thinking that the medal might benefit from a modicum of embellishment.  And, given that the award is sponsored by an organization of “poets, playwrights, essayists, editors, and novelists” and that the award is for writing “lyrics of Literary Excellence” [emphasis mine], a word or two of text might not be out of place.

Compare the PEN Lyrics Award with some of the other prizes Cohen has won in the past few years.

Prizes awarded Leonard Cohen: PEN Lyrics, Prince Of Asturias, Grammy, Songwriters Hall of Fame, Glenn Gould, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

My personal assessment is that the PEN Lyrics Award medal seems a tad – oh, let’s go with “generic.” Heck, if nothing else, wouldn’t it be wise to engrave PEN New England’s logo on the medallion so that ten years from now, when Leonard Cohen’s grandchildren find it while playing in Grandpa’s attic, Grandpa can tell them which award it is?

The PEN Lyrics Medal Enhancement Project

Karen Wulf, who is the Director of PEN New England and who was good enough to send me the photo of the medal is no doubt unaware of my previous projects to revise and enhance  Leonard Cohen’s lyrics, concerts, ad campaigns, and  merchandise, including the Leonard Cohen Bobble Head Doll and the  Heart With A Companion T-shirt (which features the familiar Unified Heart logo attached to its own Cohentronics pacemaker).

Further, she is no doubt unfamiliar with my work on the McHenry County Seal.1

And she almost certainly was not knowledgeable about my own design that was selected for the prestigious Heck Of A Guy Order Of Leonard Award2 bestowed upon Albert Noonan, Arlene Dick, Maarten Massa, and Dean Engelhardt.
order-leonard-no-bus

Should Ms Wulf be reading this post, however, I suspect she will not, by now, be surprised to learn that Heck Of A Guy has drafted a New & Improved version of the Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award medal and offers that design to PEN New England – at no charge.

The New & Improved PEN Lyrics Medal

The first change was the obvious one – introducing text to the design. Clearly the “PEN New England” logo was appropriate.

Shortly after that was accomplished came the textual breakthrough. Rather than stick with the unwieldy “PEN New England Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award,” why not revise the name to one that connotes quality but also sizzles, not unlike that heart Mr Cohen goes on about, the one that “goes on cooking, sizzling like shish kebab?”3  Thus evolved the “Leonard Cohen – Chuck Berry Song Lyrics Award.”

The next step proved more difficult. The impulse to add a bit of flash with precious stones proved to be one of those slippery slopes against which one is often warned these days.


The ultra-bling model was quickly rejected.

In any case, the original medal plus the new text actually looked pretty good – but, still, something seemed to be missing.

Then came the epiphany: the final problem wasn’t the medal; it was the ribbon. Once the ribbon was was replaced with more appropriate neckwear,

PEN New England’s Leonard Cohen – Chuck Berry Song Lyrics Award transformed into perfection.

Especially if, say, this guy wins next year.

  1. The story behind the decision to revise the McHenry County Seal and, eventually, to hold a seal design contest is summarized in The McHenry County Seal Slaughter and McHenry County Seal Wars.  All posts dealing with county seal designs can be found · []
  2. Yes, my design for the prize I created was selected by me. Who else was qualified? []
  3. “A Light-Hearted Apocalypse” by Tim de Lilsle (Independent, 12 October 1997) []

One Response to The New & Improved PEN New England Leonard Cohen – Chuck Berry Song Lyrics Award Medal

  1. Now THAT’S an award for everyday wear. Love the quill touch.