Saturday, January 07, 2006

Conflicted Feelings (and Layton poem), blog entry, Jan 5 06
by Sarah, Toronto, Ontario
January 5 2006

10:35 am - layton

irving layton died today. he was 93 and had been in an old age home for a long time. (i found the address while googling for his bio. even though i'd known for awhile that he was in a home, it was still shocking to see the info so plainly accessible. to wonder how many people sent him mail he couldn't read.)

as much as i think a lot of his work is just a written hard-on, and as a person, he cultivated a real mysogynist image, he really ripped open poetry for me as a teenager. the library had a pretty grim modern poetry selection - mostly stuff from the 70's, and i quickly exhausted it. there was leonard cohen, margaret atwood and layton. (i was desperate to avoid anything "old" and rhyming)

i remember i wanted, not so secretly, to be brave and raunchy and in love or hate with everything, like he was - that was why all my teenage poems found desperate ways to include fuck or shit. he was an asshole sometimes, but he made me want to be a man. as conflicted as my feelings are about him, the news of his death gives me pause.

Against This Death

I have seen respectable
served up like bread and wine
in stores and offices,
in club and hostel,
and from the streetcorner
that faces
I have seen death
served up
like ice.

Against this death,
slow, certain:
the body,
this burly sun,
the exhalations
of your breath,
your cheeks
rose and lovely,
and the secret
of the imagination
scheming freedom
from labour
and stone.

- Irving Layton


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