Thursday, February 02, 2012

Come Celebrate Irving Layton's 100th Birthday!

Canadians coast to coast are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of our greatest poets, Irving Layton, who was born on March 12, 1912. Never before in Canadian history has this country united to remember - of all things! - one of its poets. Celebrations are scheduled in all ten provinces and the Yukon and this Page serves as our communication HUB for such Events.

If you would like to organize an Event in your own community please contact Max Layton at maxlayton at rogers dot com.

Also, please go to our Facebook page and then to EVENTS to RSVP, volunteer or learn more. (You don't need a Facebook account to get information from the page).

Some of the communities where celebrations are taking place:

March 10 - Bowen Island, BC, Canada -Irving Layton Centenary Celebration
March 11 - Ottawa, ON, Canada - Poets and Members of Parliament celebrate Layton's legacy
March 11 - Vancouver, BC, Canada - Irving Layton 100th Birthday Party
March 11 - Montreal, QC, Canada - Irving Layton's 100th
March 11 - Victoria, BC, Canada - Welcome to the Irving Layton Spice Box Centennial Cabaret!
March 12 - Saskatoon, SK, Canada - Looking Back, Looking Forward
March 12 - Regina, SK, Canada - Vertigo Celebrates Irving Layton's 100th Birthday
March 12 - Goose Bay, Labrador - Letterset Layton
March 12 - Fredericton, NB, Canada - Community Poetry Reading
March 12 - Sydney, NS, Canada - Irving Layton Centenary Celebration
March 12 - Windsor, ON, Canada - Centenary Celebration
March 12 - Kingston, ON, Canada - Poetry Reading and Book Display
March 12 - Calgary, AB, Canada - Irving Layton Open Mic
March 12 - Edmonton, AB, Canada - Poetry Reading and Open Mic
March 12 - Halifax, NS, Canada - Whatever Else Poetry Is Freedom Centenary Bash
March 12 - Corner Brook, Nfld, Canada - The Irving Layton Birthday Bash
March 12 - St.John's, Nfld, Canada - Irving Layton’s 100th Birthday Bash
March 13 - St.John's, Nfld, Canada - Centenary Birthday Celebration
March 12 - Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada - Irving Layton Open Mic
March 12 - Winnipeg, MB, Canada - Irving Layton Celebration
March 12 - Charlottetown, PEI, Canada - Poetry Reading
March 12 - Niagara-On-The-Lake, ON, Canada - Reading Layton
March 14 - Toronto, ON, Canada @ Harbourfront - Irving Layton Centenary Event

Guernica Poets Taking Part in Irving Layton Centenary Event

Guernica Editions
January 19, 2012
By Laura Carter

Guernica poets Michael Mirolla and Julie Roorda have been invited to take part in an Irving Layton Centenary Event at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto. Poets will come together for the event and take the stage to read Layton’s work. Michael and Julie will be joined by Margaret Atwood, Scott Griffin, Anna Porter, Pier Giorgio DiCicco, Barry Callaghan and Dennis Lee among others. The evening will be hosted by Max Layton, Irving Layton’s eldest son and upcoming Guernica author.

When: Wednesday, March 14 from 7:00pm until 10:30pm

Where: Harbourfront Centre , 235 Queens Quay West, Toronto, ON

Posted in Events, Poetry, Readings.

Tagged with , .

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Call for Submissions! (deadline Feb 15) Poetry Quebec Celebrates Irving Layton’s Centenary!

Poetry Quebec
January 28, 2012

Poetry Quebec Celebrates Irving Layton’s Centenary!

It began here, in Montreal. And now it has gone national. Last year, Poetry Quebec came up with the idea of celebrating Irving Layton’s Centenary. After meeting with Layton’s son, Max, the idea took off. Events are now being organized in every major city in every province across the country.

Irving Layton was a renowned Montreal / Canadian / international poet. He was also a controversial one who disturbed the refined sensibility of the conservative Canadian literary and social establishment.

To commemorate this important poet, Poetry Quebec is dedicating its (#11) Spring 2012 issue to him. It will feature a selection of his poems, letters, and introductions from a number of his books. It will also include photos, articles and essays.

We invite you to participate by submitting any work– poems, essays, articles, reminiscences, photos – inspired by or focusing on Layton to

Deadline: February 15th, 2012

The issue will be launched at

The Irving Layton Centenary Celebration/Ceremony

Sunday, March 11, 2012

6:30 PM

Concordia University

J.A. de Sève Cinema

J.W. McConnell Building (Library)


1400 de Maisonneuve West

Montreal, Quebec

The event will include reading of Layton’s poems by Montreal poets

Mark Abley, Jason Camlot, Anne Cimon,

Gabe Foreman, Catherine Kidd, Steve Luxton,

Mary di Michele, Carolyn Marie Souaid, Gillian Sze

Musical & theatrical interpretations

Archival footage & rare books

Admission is FREE but seating is limited.


This event is a co-production with infinitheatre and the Concordia University English Department

Friday, May 20, 2011

Audio Interview - Contact Press: ‘the most important Canadian small press of its time’

Audio Interview with Michael Gnarowski on Contact Press: ‘the most important Canadian small press of its time’

Literary Tourist

May 19, 2011

Professor, poet, editor and critic, Michael Gnarowski was born in Shanghai, China in 1934. He received his Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Ottawa in 1967. While an undergraduate at McGill, he contributed to, and co-edited, Yes (1956-1970) magazine. He also wrote for and/or edited Le Chien d’or/The Golden Dog (1970-1972), Delta, Golden Dog Press (1971-1985), and Tecumseh Press, and was series editor for McGraw-Hill Ryerson’s Critical Views on Canadian Writers Series (1969-1977) and co-edited Canadian Poetry (1977- ) with David Bentley.

In 1970 Gnarowski wrote a brief history and checklist of the Contact Press. Here’s his entry on Contact in the Canadian Encyclopedia:

"Contact Press (1952-67) was founded as a poets’ co-operative by Louis DUDEK, Raymond SOUSTER and Irving LAYTON, who were generally dissatisfied with the slight opportunities for publication available to Canadian poets. Contact went on, in the course of its 15-year history, to become the most important small press of its time. Launched at the mid-century, it published all the major Canadian poets of the period, and transformed literary life and small-press activity in Canada by its openness to a variety of poetic styles and its assertiveness of the poet’s role in the production of his own work. Beginning before subsidies and government aid to Canadian book publishing had become a mainstay of such activity, Contact was a self-financed act of faith on the part of its founders.

While its main thrust was in publishing the new work of individual poets, it produced a milestone anthology, Canadian Poems 1850-1952, co-edited by Dudek and Layton in 1952, and an avant-garde manifesto of young poets published as New Wave Canada: The New Explosion in Canadian Poetry (1966). This was a successor to Souster’s Poets 56, which had featured young poets in response to Dudek’s query "Où sont les jeunes?"

Essentially a "no-frills" press, Contact published handsome, workmanlike books with, on occasion, a mimeographed pamphlet. Its writers ranged from F.R. SCOTT, one of the early moderns, to the newest wave represented by Margaret Atwood, George Bowering and John Newlove."

I met with Gnarowski recently at his home in Kemptville, Ontario to talk about the history, and collecting of, Contact Press. Please listen here to our conversation on the website as linked above.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Retro Bites: Irving Layton: Prophet (1979 film)

Retro Bites: Irving Layton: Prophet

Wonderful short interview of Layton talking about what poetry is.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Meeting Irving Layton by Dean J Baker

Meeting Irving Layton
by Dean J Baker
November 1, 2009

A brief

I’d run out the front door of my home, with my father chasing me, obviously angry.
It was a snowy day, late afternoon, and I was the caricature of the poet, lazing around, reading, and writing, without a job, at 20.
I did have the presence of mind to grab my winter coat and scarf as I flew towards the bus stop, without any intention of returning that day, headed I knew, for my cement oasis of downtown.
More than likely my prehensile brain had it all planned.
Too bad it hadn’t planned on having more than 4 transit tokens, and $1.25 in my pocket.

I didn’t have any paper, or a pen either, with me. I walked the streets, taking in the shoppers, the goods, seeing into the restaurants since there was a complete lack of cafes existing in what passed for a main street in downtown Toronto at the time.

I’d been planning on meeting Irving Layton ever since I found that, to my amazement, he was not only alive and existing in society, rather than simply vacationing in Mexico as he did every year, or coming out of some misplaced hermitry, but taught at York University – in Toronto!

I didn’t have to settle for seeing him on the occasional Pierre Berton show, his articulation and passion a thing of surprising and sustained beauty. He wasn’t another dead English poet to be studied from afar, in a book, to contrive dreams of some fantastic poesy as if written on a Grecian urn.

Considering briefly my own high school teachers who between failing me at almost every grade, denouncing my words in essays for class that they said did not exist – only I knew they did, being an avid reader of the dictionary at various times – and asking to borrow my rare poetry books, such as Petrarch, I wondered for a moment at the disparity between those who taught Poetry, and the poets themselves.

I did briefly consider what I might say to Mr. Layton, what he might say, or not, and simply felt that I had to meet this great poet whose words had lit a spark in me the first time I came across them in an English class in high school.
My mind went no further than both the idea of actually meeting a published great poet, and being in his presence, and absent were any thoughts of what might transpire.

It would turn out to be an event whose importance would influence me forever.

More to come….

©Dean J. Baker©Dean J. Baker and, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material that appears here or has appeared here without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Dean J. Baker and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

By Irving Layton - Creativity is Antagonistic

From Cobourg of All Things (blog) by Wally Keeler

October 22, 2009


“…creativity is antagonistic, is in eternal opposition to everything that would destroy creativity and introduce those lifeless structures that are inimical to growth…"

From The Malahat Review, October 1972

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Layton out Loud TONIGHT at Concordia!

Hi Layton fans,

Sorry this is a little late but there is a wonderful event called Layton Out Loud hosted by Concordia at 6pm EST at the Vanier Library -

Unfortunately I cannot attend as I am out of the country, however we would love to hear comments from those who attend!

Here is the article as linked to above:

Fifty archival boxes sit on the shelves of a fluorescently lit, climate-controlled storeroom in the Vanier Library. It’s a humble, eerily sterile home for the complete collected works of poet Irving Layton, a man remembered equally for his pride and fertile words.

It’s a backdrop seemingly too poetically rich for him to withhold comment on, even posthumously. On the top shelf rest two busts of Layton – one, eyes open and smiling; the other, eyes closed and sombre – as if he were silently mulling over a poem about the life contained in these 50 boxes.

Quiet as it may be right now, his legacy is about to get louder.

At 6 p.m. on Oct. 1 at Vanier Library, Layton will be commemorated at Layton Out Loud, the homecoming event organized by the Special Collections team at Concordia Libraries to honour the man’s literary legacy and his lengthy relationship with Concordia.

Theatre professor and acting chair of the department Nancy Helms (left) coaches undergrad Shannon Hamilton during a rehearsal on Sept. 25 in VL-126. Hamilton will be interpreting Layton’s 1963 poem There Were No Signs at the event.

The collection (consisting of all his published works, letters, CBC interviews, 300 audio recordings, scrapbooks and all the drafts of his poems including some written on stray paperbags) has resided at Concordia for nearly 40 years.

The event will include an exhibit of selected works, an audio exhibit complete with MP3 players, and a colourful interpretation of Layton poems by three theatre students. This will be the second event honouring Layton this fall; on Sept. 26 and 27, Special Collections hosted the 26th Montreal Antiquarian Book Fair in the McConnell Atrium, which displayed early Layton manuscripts.

Layton taught creative writing part-time at SGW University from 1949-65 and became poet in residence from 1965-69. He made a jump to York University in 1970-78 to teach creative writing, but didn’t disconnect from Concordia completely.
In the early 70s, Layton began discussing with then-head of the reference department Jim Polson the possibility of housing all his material at Concordia. When Polson saw the amount of material Layton had, he hired English literature master’s student Joy Bennett to help organize the collection. Bennett went on to be a librarian and university administrator.

Although she wasn’t particularly familiar with Layton’s work, Bennett jumped at the chance to work with such a prominent figure.

Theatre student Alexandra Draghici rehearses the 1956 poem The Fertile Muck. “He believed in soulfulness, truth and passion. I think it’s important for someone to keep these things alive,” she says.

“Irving was larger than life. He was one of the most charismatic individuals I’d ever met,” she says. “He would show up unannounced with a gym bag full of his stuff, and the whole place would go abuzz.”

In 1974, an arrangement was formalized whereby he would donate or sell his manuscripts, correspondence and other related material to the Libraries’ Special Collections in the Norris Building. Extending beyond the library walls, Bennett says Layton was remarkably generous with his time, often arranging speaking engagements with students in creative writing.

His lengthy service and generosity was recognized with an honorary doctorate in 1976. Shortly thereafter, he returned to his Concordia duties as writer in residence, and was also made an adjunct English professor.

Over the years, Layton and Bennett grew close in friendship, transcending a strictly professional relationship. Roughly 20 years ago, Bennett decided to adopt a baby from Romania. Layton, who was born in the Romanian town of Tirgul Neamt in 1912, took personal interest in her plans. “He was thrilled,” she says. “He really thought that was special and it was something we shared. He always remembered his heritage.”

It was his openness and passion for life that kept their affinity for each other growing. In 1993, Bennett co-edited Raging Like a Fire (Véhicule Press), a collection of memoirs, letters and poems in honour of Layton. The book presented her with an opportunity for her own tribute; inspired by Layton’s profound ode to his daughter, Song for Naomi, Bennett penned a poem for her daughter. Her version, Song for Marian, graced Layton’s eyes for the first time as they presented the book to him at an event celebrating his 80th birthday. The celebration marked the beginning of a difficult period in time, Bennett reflects, as it became apparent his battle with Alzheimer’s had begun to take effect.

“It was kind of hard. I couldn’t bear to see him and know he wouldn’t know who I was,” she says. It was an ailment that would increasingly afflict him until his death at the age of 93 in Jan. 2006.

Today, the collection is being cared for by Digital and Special Collections Librarian Annie Murray – one of the key personalities in realizing the Layton Out Loud event. Like Bennett before her, Murray has both a BA and MA in English literature and had always been aware of Layton, but strangely had never examined his work. Stranger still, her exposure to Layton was limited to reading Song for Naomi in high school – the same poem that affected Bennett years before.

“It’s weird to be totally enmeshed in one person’s world. I’ve seen his handwriting, all his letters,” says Murray. “I never knew him, but I sort of know him. He’s like a powerful ghost.”

This summer, Murray contacted theatre professor and acting chair of the department Nancy Helms and asked her if she’d be interested in finding a few undergrads to perform Layton’s poetry for the event. Three stepped forward. Alexandra Draghici will be performing 1956’s The Fertile Muck, Shannon Hamilton will perform 1963’s There Were No Signs and Mireck Metelski, 1978’s Night Music.

“It’s neat because they chose the poems themselves, and each one spans different periods of his writing,” says Helms. “They each have different voices depending on where he was in his life.”

Helms has worked closely with the three over the latter half of the summer and into the fall to bring out their individual interpretations. How exactly the interpretation will unfold is as personal as the words being read. “My opinion is, ‘when it’s on the page, it’s up for grabs’,” she says.

Draghici, now in her last year, has had a long love for Layton, stretching all the way back to her childhood. “He’s part of my soul,” she says.

“When I think of him, I think of someone […] claiming his power and not having to work for it because of his intense presence. I think of somebody who isn’t perfect but probably stayed true to himself.”

For Bennett, the event marks a complete circle of sorts – a fitting tribute to someone who helped the school, the writing community and Canadian literature so much.

“I’m really pleased to see him truly appreciated.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A mother and son's journey to Greece, now and then, May 9, 09
The Toronto Star (Travel section)
BY David Layton
Aviva Whiteson
Special to the Star

Here are the first words my mother said to me after I told her we'd each have a private veranda aboard our ship: "Be careful that you don't lean over the rails or you might fall over!" She was serious.

Not long after that she called to say that spring in Greece is unpredictable. She'd looked at the weather forecast and told me to pack warm clothes — for the next few days "layers" became her favourite word. "Do they heat the boat?"

The boat in question was the luxurious Silver Wind, a ship so white you almost needed sunglasses just to stare at it, and one of four ships operated by SilverSea Cruises.

"I don't know, Mom, but they might have some blankets we could wrap around our shoulders."

"It's not," I added, "like the old days."

Those days were in point of fact the young days, when I'd been a child, my mother a young woman, and our mode of transportation was one step up from a donkey. It had been almost 30 years since my father, Irving Layton, my mother and I last travelled to Greece together. Mother's Day was approaching, an excuse for us to go back there, but this time without my father, who'd passed away.

My mother is 76. I am in my 40s. If not now, when?

Our first stop was the Hotel Phaedra in Athens, where my parents and I had stayed in 1967. The tiny, toy elevator I used to joyride when I was a kid was still in operation, but as with my mother and me, much has changed over the intervening years. Once charging less than $5 a night, the hotel, like Athens, has been renovated and transformed for the Olympic Games in 2004. But the view of the Acropolis, which we can see from our balcony, is unchanged and eternal. So, too, the Plaka, the historical district, with its village houses and cobblestoned streets that surround it.

It was on one of those very cobblestones that my mother, on our first night, tripped and fell. My mother, previously so concerned for my own welfare, now lay on the ground with a serious gash on her forehead, a possible concussion, and the definite need to find a hospital.

Here's a valuable lesson someone once passed on to me: When in need, always go to the best hotel, even if you aren't staying there, and avail yourself of their services. The incredibly helpful concierge at the Grande Bretagne found us a doctor and then flagged a private taxi to take us there. One MRI, four stitches and two hours later, we emerged from the hospital.

It was now 11 p.m. We hadn't slept for 18 hours. Was my mother tired?

"I don't even have a headache!" she said. What might have ended our trip before it had even begun turned into the best cure for jet-lag. We went to a taverna and sipped ouzo, listening to live bouzouki music.

I knew travelling with my mother was going to be exhausting, but not quite in this way. She never stopped. In Rhodes, it was off to the whitewashed village of Lindos to visit some old friends of hers; in Marmaris, Turkey, we rented a jeep that broke down in the mountains. We hitched a ride back into town. There wasn't a musical performance, variety act or dinner reservation aboard ship that she wanted to miss.

A friend who helped me shop for the trip kept picking out cute little momma-boy sailor shirts for me to wear. Many of my friends thought it strange that I wanted to travel with my mother. I think it's strange that you wouldn't want to.

On our final night of sailing, the lights of the Ionic islands twinkling in the distance, my mother took my hand and said, "This is the best trip I've ever had."

Greece may be eternal, but we are not. Time passes. So next Mother's Day, take your mother on a trip. It's not as bad as it sounds. Promise.

David Layton is a Toronto-based freelance writer.
No wonder I want to repeat the whole trip again - but only if I can hold fast to my son's hand

The first time I sailed to Athens with my son, David, he was only a few months old.

We'd travelled there in an old Greek tub of a ship, our tiny cabin so close to the waterline that every time I opened the porthole, half the ocean sloshed in.

Four decades later, he's now taking me on a journey and it's on a cruise ship called The Silver Wind, where we each have a luxurious suite with glass doors opening onto a large veranda and a dressing room which was twice the size of my previous cabin.

Before we started our life of luxury, we'd decided to "slum" it for a few days in Athens, revisiting our old haunts.

I'd booked us into the Phaedra, a funky little hotel at the base of the Acropolis, where we'd always stayed and where David's favourite activity was riding the creaky old elevator up and down, to the intense annoyance of the two brothers, Stamatis and Yannis, who owned the hotel.

Despite our massive jet lag, we didn't want to waste a second and set off on a preliminary stroll.

As we negotiate the uneven cobblestones of the Plaka, I stumble and instinctively reach out to grab my son's arm, except that he had reached out to grab me, and in a split second I realize that, at 76, I am now the child and he the parent.

After a trip to the emergency ward and four stitches later, I cling to his arm like a limpet whenever he offers – which is all the time.

Even though I had dragged him all over the world when he was young, whether he wanted to go or not (and mostly he didn't), I'm lucky that he still wants to travel with me.

He's a great travelling companion, far more caring for my comfort than I am for his.

We have almost identical reactions to places and situations, both love going off the beaten path at the various ports of call.

We walk into whatever town we berth at, explore narrow alleyways, drink at local tavernas and then, at departure time, return to our floating palace, there to be enveloped in pampered luxury with only a gangplank connecting the two different worlds.

It never fails to astonish me that each morning we step out onto our verandas and there, like magic, another world appears in front of my eyes – Corfu, Rhodes, Kusadasi, Turkey, where we take the local bus to Ephesus and splurge on a private guide who is more intent on showing us the site of the brothels than the place where Paul preached to the Ephesians.

Later that evening, the cruise line arranges a special concert in one of the amphitheatres where, wrapped up in fleecy blankets, we listen to a string quartet, sip champagne and gaze out over the softly lit-up colonnades of one the most amazing ruins in the world.

Not that it was all paradisical. There were, of course, my constant motherly admonitions – "Make sure you're dressed warmly enough" ... "Don't lean too far over the railings" ... "That food always upsets your stomach."

I seem to have an endless supply of these shibboleths and can't stop trotting them out, even though the results are invariably counterproductive.

The bottom line, though, is that I love my son's company and, despite the mother-guilt, I console myself with the thought that I must have done something right.

When it comes time to disembark, I have a sudden panic attack at not being able to call room service at 3 a.m. if I have a sudden craving for Assiago Italiani or Bitter Chocolate Mousse.

Not that I did it, but I loved the idea that I could have done it.

No longer was there anyone hurrying across the dining room to assist me in peeling the foil off my yoghurt container or press exotic drinks on me at every turn.

No wonder I want to repeat the whole trip again – but only if I can hold fast to my son's hand.

Photo: Fond memories, past and present, of family trips to Greece that David Layton took with his mom, Aviva Whiteson.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, April 27, 2009

Leonard Cohen tour 2009 and video!

Great news to Cohen fans, Leonard Cohen is now touring after a hiatus for several years - soon to be 75-year-old Cohen is touring and I was lucky enough to see him in Seattle.

Bounding on the stage like a man 50 years younger, Cohen sang all of the favorites - Suzanne, Bird on the Wire, Closing Time, Dance Me to the End of Love and the heartbreaking Hallelujah.

I just know that Irving is watching from somewhere and I am sure if he were here he would celebrate by reading some poetry and sharing a bottle of wine.

Cheers Leonard - all of us Layton fans are thrilled to see how you are doing!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bringing Irving Layton Wine (film) by P Vermeersch

Bringing Irving Layton Wine

by Paul Vermeersch

March 24, 2009

This short film documents poet Patrick Woodcock's 2001 journey to the Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Montreal to bring his hero, the legendary poet Irving Layton, a bottle of wine. It is a humble token of a young poet's admiration and gratitide for this maestro's life and work. Though he was ailing from Alzheimer's disease at the time of filming, the archival recordings of Layton at the height of his vigour used in the film demonstrate his powerful charisma and literary genius.

Fellow poet John Stiles is behind the camera, and the film was edited by Ian Harvey with music by The Church.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Irving Layton Avenue Unveiling, (and photo) The Chronicle, April 30th 2007
April 30th 2007

Côte St. Luc's mayor and city councillors will be officially dedicating a new street in honour of one of Canada's greatest poets — Irving Layton — this coming Sunday at 11 a.m.

The ceremony for Irving Layton Avenue, which is situated behind St. Richard's Church near Guelph Road and Parkhaven Avenue, will include the unveiling of the street sign, a plaque in honour of Layton, as well as speeches by Mayor Anthony Housefather and Layton's son, Max.

"Irving Layton lived for long periods of his life in Côte St. Luc," says Housefather. "He raised two of his children in our community and chose to spend his last years here. Layton was an extraordinarily prolific writer, poet and teacher. I am proud to dedicate this avenue to his memory."

Born in a the small Romanian town of Tirgui Neamt in 1912 to Jewish parents, Layton immigrated with his family to Canada in 1913, settling in Montreal. He grew up in a poor neighbourhood around St. Urbain Street and fell in love with poetry when he was in grade 10.

Layton spent most of his career as a teacher. He taught at Sir George Williams University, Herzliah High School and the Jewish Public Library. Many of his students have become prominent public figures, including Mount Royal MP Irwin Cotler and D'Arcy McGee MNA Lawrence Bergman, both of whom will speak on Sunday.

Layton published 50 books of poetry and prose between 1945 and 1992, many of which were translated into Greek, Italian, Spanish, Korean and other languages. His collection of poetry, A Red Carpet for the Sun, won the Governor General's Award in 1959. He was made an officer in the Order of Canada in 1976. He died on Jan. 4, 2006 at the age of 93.

Max Layton, who teaches school and is a musician in Toronto, says his father had a major impact on his life. "Because of my father, I am a better human being," says Max. He proudly describes his father as "amazingly well-read," with an astonishing breadth of interests and insights.

Max has vivid recollections of the family home during the 1950s — a farm house in the days just before Côte St. Luc was permanently transformed into a bedroom suburb. He remembers the parties his parents hosted and at which all kinds of artists turned up, including dancers, potters, sculptors and actors. Among these was Leonard Cohen, the burgeoning young poet and songwriter who was destined for world fame.

Max recalls how, at night, he would sneak out of his room and watch from the top of the stairs what the adults were up to. He describes Cohen as being like a "magnet attracting women." As soon as Cohen stepped into the room, women would swirl around.

"Leonard, in my opinion, is the greatest song writer of our times," says Max. "He's the 21st century Jewish psalmist. His songs for me were very religious, beautiful and memorable."

Please Join Us at the Irving Layton Avenue Dedication Ceremony Sunday, May 6th, 2007

Greetings Irving Layton fans!

Please join Cote St. Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather, Councillor Mike Cohen, Mount Royal MP Irwin Cotler, Minister Lawrence Bergman, MNA for D’Arcy McGee and others in celebrating one of Canada's Greatest Poets, Irving Layton.

Irving Layton Avenue is located
behind St. Richards Church and close to the corner of Guelph Rd. and Parkhaven Ave.

Copied below is the notice in the Cote St.Luc website which can be found at (

If you are able to attend, we would like to post your account and/or photographs, so please email us.

Thank you,

Irving Layton Ave. street dedication ceremony on Sunday

2007-05-06 11:00
2007-05-06 13:00

Irving LaytonMayor Anthony Housefather and the Côte Saint-Luc City Council will
officially dedicate a new street in honour of the poet Irving Layton on
Sunday, May 6, 2007
at 11am on Irving Layton Ave.

The event is chaired by Councillor Mike Cohen, who is responsible
for toponymy in the city, and Councillor Mitchell Brownstein, who
represents the district where the street is located. Other participants
include École Maimonide, Max Layton—son of Irving Layton—other members
of the Layton family, Mount Royal MP Irwin Cotler, and D’Arcy McGee MNA
Lawrence Bergman.

All residents are invited to attend the street naming ceremony.

Irving Layton Ave. is situated behind
St. Richard’s Church and École Maimonide near Guelph Road and
Parkhaven Avenue.


Sunday, December 31, 2006

Wikipedia - Irving Layton

Irving Layton OC (March 12, 1912January 4, 2006) was a Canadian poet. He was known for his "tell it like it is" style which won him a wide following but also made enemies. As T. Jacobs notes in his biography (2001), Layton fought Puritanism throughout his life:

Layton's work had provided the bolt of lightening that was needed to split open the thin skin of conservatism and complacency in the poetry scene of the preceding century, allowing modern poetry to expose previously unseen richness and depth (Jacobs, 2001).



On March 12, 1912, born Israel Pincu Lazarovitch in Târgu Neamţ, a small town in Romania, to Jewish parents, Moses and Klara Lazarovitch, he emigrated with his family to Montreal, Quebec in 1913 and was forced to live in the impoverished St. Urbain Street neighbourhood, later made famous by Mordecai Richler in his novels. There Layton and his family (his father died when he was 13) faced daily struggles with, among others, Montreal's French Canadians, who were uncomfortable with the growing numbers of Jewish newcomers.[1]

Layton graduated from Alexandra Elementary School and attended Baron Byng High School, where his life was changed when he was introduced to such poets as Alfred Lord Tennyson, Walter Scott, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, and Percy Bysshe Shelley; the novelists Jane Austen and George Eliot; the essayists Francis Bacon, Oliver Goldsmith, Samuel Johnson, and Jonathan Swift; and also William Shakespeare and Charles Darwin. He became very interested in politics and social theory and began reading Karl Marx and Nietzsche and also became politically active in socialist politics — so much so that he became a threat to the high school administration and was asked to leave before graduating. In light of his limited educational opportunities, with no high school diploma, and also due to limited finances, he enrolled in Macdonald College in 1934 and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture.

While in college, he was well known in artistic circles for his anti-bourgeois attitudes and his criticism of politics. He quickly found that his true interest was poetry, so pursued a career as a poet and became friends with the emerging young poets of his day, including fellow Canadian poets John Sutherland, Raymond Souster, and Louis Dudek. In the 1940s, Layton and his fellow Canadian poets rejected the older generation of poets, including Northrop Frye, and their efforts helped define the tone of the post-war generation poets in Canada. Essentially, they argued that modern poetry should set its own style, independent of British styles and influences, and should reflect the social realities of the day.

In 1936, Layton met Faye Lynch, whom he married in 1938. When Layton graduated from Macdonald College in 1939, he moved with Faye to Halifax where he worked odd jobs, including a stint as a Fuller Brush man. Soon disenchanted with his life, Layton decided, one evening, to return to Montreal. He began teaching English to recent immigrants to make ends meet and continued doing so for many years. Indecisive about his future and enraged by Hitler's violence toward Jews and destruction of European culture, Layton enlisted in the Canadian army in 1942. While serving at Petawawa, Layton met Betty Sutherland, an accomplished painter (and later poet), and a half-sister to actor Donald Sutherland. Layton soon divorced Faye and married Betty. They had two children together: Max Reuben (1946) and Naomi Parker (1950). In 1943, Layton was given an honourable discharge from the army and returned to Montreal.

Layton had become a strong socialist while at high school and joined the Young People's Socialist League. Later, he became active in the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation. Because of this activity he was blacklisted and banned from entering the United States for the next two decades. While he continued to consider himself a Marxist, he became anti-Communist during the Cold War and broke with many on the left with his support of the Vietnam War. (Source: Toronto Star, January 5, 2006)

By the mid-1950s, Layton's activism and poetry had made him a staple on the CBC televised debating program "Fighting Words," where he earned a reputation as a formidable debater. The publication of "A Red Carpet For The Sun" in 1959 secured Layton's national reputation while the many books of poetry which followed eventually made him an internationally known celebrity.

In 1946, after receiving his M.A. in economics and political science from McGill (with a thesis on Harold Laski), Layton considered teaching as a career. In 1949, Layton began teaching English, history, and political science at the Jewish parochial high school, Herzliah (a branch of the United Talmud Torahs of Montreal). He was an influential teacher and many of his students became poets, writers, and artists. Among his students were poet/songwriter Leonard Cohen and television magnate Moses Znaimer. Layton continued to teach for the greater part of his life: as a teacher of modern English and American poetry at Sir George Williams University (now Concordia University) and as a tenured professor at Toronto's York University in the 1970s, as well as delivering many lectures and readings throughout Canada. Layton pursued his Ph.D. in 1948 though he abandoned it due to the demands of his already hectic professional life.

In the late 1950s, friends introduced Layton to Aviva Cantor (who had emigrated to Montreal from her native Australia in 1955). After several years of painful indecision, Layton and Betty separated and Layton moved in with Aviva. The two had a son, David, in 1964. Though Layton remained legally married to Betty, his relationship with Aviva lasted more than twenty years, only ending in the late 1970s when Aviva left.

It was in the immediate aftermath of this experience that Layton finally divorced Betty and, after a whirlwind courtship, married Harriet Bernstein, a former student. In 1981, a daughter, Samantha Clara, was born. The marriage was short-lived, however, and ended in a bitterly contested divorce. Layton then turned to his housekeeper, Anna (Annette) Pottier, who, although 48 years his junior, became his fifth and last "wife". They lived in the middle-class Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighbourhood of Montreal from 1983 until 1994 when Layton was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. He died at the Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Montreal at the age of 93 on January 4, 2006.

Throughout the 1950s and on into the 1980s, Layton travelled widely abroad and became especially popular in South Korea and Italy, and in 1981 these two nations nominated him for the Nobel Prize for Literature. (The prize that year was instead awarded to novelist Gabriel García Márquez.) Among his many awards during his career was the Governor-General's Award for A Red Carpet for the Sun in 1959. In 1976 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Leonard Cohen once said of him, "I taught him how to dress, and he taught me how to live forever."

Layton is remembered by many as one of the first Canadian rebels of poetry, politics, and philosophy. Many believe he legitimately internationalized himself and even other Canadian poets through his coldness toward his own Canadianness. At Layton's funeral, Leonard Cohen and David Solway expressed, in their eulogies, that Layton was a revolutionary thinker who was radical, but realistic. All the eulogists agreed he was a great poet, arguably the first great poet of Canada. He is considered Leonard Cohen's literary -- and some would argue spiritual --guru.

Works & Awards

He is remembered in the Canadian literature for having written 40 poetry and prose books through his career. Layton was twice nominated for the Nobel Prize (1982), but was never awarded one by the time of his death. He was the first non-Italian to be awarded the Petrarch Award for Poetry, an Italian award to recognize a poet's talent.[1]


  • Now Is The Place — 1948
  • The Black Huntsmen: Poems — 1951
  • Love the Conqueror Worm — 1953
  • The Long Pea-Shooter — 1954
  • In the Midst of My Fever — 1954
  • The Blue Propeller — 1955
  • The Cold Green Element — 1955
  • The Bull Calf and Other Poems — 1956
  • The Improved Binoculars: Selected Poems — 1956
  • Music on a Kazoo — 1956
  • A Laughter in the Mind — 1959
  • A Red Carpet for the Sun — 1960
  • The Swinging Flesh — 1961
  • Balls for a One-Armed Juggler — 1963
  • The Laughing Rooster — 1964
  • Collected Poems — 1965
  • Periods of the Moon: Poems — 1967
  • The Shattered Plinths — 1968
  • Selected Poems — 1969
  • The Whole Bloody Bird — 1969
  • Poems to Color — 1970
  • Nailpolish — 1971
  • The Collected Poems of Irving Layton — 1971
  • Lovers and Lesser Men — 1972
  • The Pole-Vaulter — 1974
  • Seventy-five Greek Poems, 1951-1974 — 1974
  • The Darkening Fire: Selected Poems, 1945-1968 — 1975
  • The Unwavering Eye: Selected Poems, 1969-1975 — 1975
  • The Uncollected Poems of Irving Layton: 1936-59 — 1976
  • For my Brother Jesus — 1976
  • The Selected Poems of Irving Layton — 1977
  • The Covenant — 1977
  • The Tightrope Dancer — 1979
  • Droppings from Heaven — 1979
  • The Tamed Puma — 1979
  • For My Neighbours in Hell — 1980
  • Europe And Other Bad News — 1981
  • A Wild Peculiar Joy: Selected Poems, 1945-82 — 1982
  • Shadows on the Ground: A Portfolio — 1982
  • The Gucci Bag — 1983
  • The Love Poems of Irving Layton: With Reverence & Delight — 1984
  • Fortunate Exile — 1987
  • Final Reckoning: Poems, 1982-1986 — 1987
  • Wild Gooseberries: The Selected Letters of Irving Layton — 1989
  • Irving Layton and Robert Creeley: The Complete Correspondence, 1953-1978 — 1990
  • Dance With Desire: Selected Love Poems — 1992

Notable Canadian(s),, Dec 29 06

Irving Layton, Jane Jacobs, Ken Thomson among Canadians who died in 2006

Eric Shackleton, Canadian Press
Friday, December 29, 2006

(CP) - Some notable Canadians who died in 2006:


Irving Layton, 93 - Nominated twice for the Nobel Prize in Literature and named to the Order of Canada, he published more than 40 books of poetry and prose over more than five decades.

Pierre Grondin, 80 - Cardiovascular surgeon who performed Canada's first successful heart transplant operation in Montreal in May 1968.

Other months listed in online article

2006 List, EYE Weekly, Dec 28 06

EYE Weekly

December 28. 2006


Liberal ads are crazy. In our cities. In Canada. We did not make this up. | Jane Creba memorial on Yonge Street. | Broken Social Scene album tops our cross-Canada music critics poll. | Sarah Slean voted best musician. | MP Sarmite Bulte raises funds, copyright questions. | Lou Rawls RIP. | The Strokes put out an album with one good song. | Angels of Light/Akron Family ****. | Stephen Harper wins minority. | Paul Martin resigns. | Olivia Chow goes to Ottawa. | Ignatieff elected to Parliament | Steve Banks RIP. | Neko Case plays the Rivoli. | Metric open for the Stones in NYC. | Wilson Pickett RIP. | Grandaddy split. | International year of deserts. | Live With Culture. | Canada wins the World Juniors. | Ariel Sharon goes down to a stroke. | Kobe Bryant: 81 points over Raptors. | William Shatner sells kidney stone for $25,000. | Manchuca ****. | Hamas wins in Palestine. | James Frey is a liar. | Oprah says she's cool with that. | Oprah decides she's not so cool with it. | Oprah reams out James Frey on her show. | Grandma's Boy H. | Commercial jingle of the year: Jim Guthrie's "Hands in My Pocket." | 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth. | CN Tower turns 30. | Irving Layton RIP. | Planet Hollywood closes. | Anthony Hamilton Ain't Nobody Worrying ****. | Sidney Crosby, rookie hype machine. | Free City of Leslieville website launched. | High-Parkdalians still say "Riverdale East." | Bon Jovi's jet gets slippery when wet in Hamilton. | Ruby slippers stolen from Bata Museum. | Nett­werk defends 15-year-old file sharer vs RIAA. | Cyclists vs motorists street fight in Kensington. | Anagram After Dark ****. | Raptors GM Rob Babcock fired. | Loudly protesting heterosexual Tom Cruise sues South Park. | Under the Mink ****. | TV reality shows turn into dance parties. | Underworld: Evolution H. | Newcomer Q'Orianka Kilcher turns heads in Terrence Malick's The New World. | Icky, lame Karla movie does not help Laura Prepon's career… | …neither does the final season of That '70s Show. | Clearlake Amber ****. | Match Point: Woody Allen's first non-lousy film since Sweet & Lowdown. | Hostel takes xenophobia abroad and impales it on sharp objects. | Michael Haneke's Caché (****) tops critics' lists early. | 40 Shades of Blue ****. | Jason Anderson: Sleeping Dogs Lie Sundance's "most heartfelt film about bestiality." | Shelley Winters RIP. | The Ghost is Dancing ****. | Chris Penn RIP. | Pete Doherty arrested twice in one day. | Lori Cullen, Calling for Rain ****. | Pete Doherty pleads guilty to drug possession. | Broken Social Scene do two nights at Kool Haus. | Cat Power, Greatest ****. | Canada: No. 1 in illegal downloading! | Katrina Onstad skewers Toronto media types in How Happy to Be. | Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, Rabbit Fur Coat ****. | Maggie MacDonald's indie opera Rat King rocks. | Robert Pollard, From a Compound Eye ****. | Prison Break breaks out. | American Jerry Zucker buys The Bay. | Bombay Black ****. | Stephen Harper shows Jean Charest some love. | Stephen Harper shows Dalton McGuinty the back of his hand. | Coretta Scott King RIP | The Sword, The Age of Winter ****. | Canadian kicker Mike Vanderjagt misses field goal, starts looking for work. | Yacht Rock loses the smooth. | Crazy about Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy."

other months listed in online article