Monday, January 09, 2006

I Remember Irving Layton, S. Nayman, Globe & Mail, Jan 7 06
I Remember Irving Layton
Saturday, January 7, 2006 Page S9

Toronto -- Sol Nayman of Toronto writes about Irving Layton, whose obituary appeared on Thursday.

It was at Montreal's Herzliah Junior High that I was privileged to have been taught by Irving Layton in 1951 and 1952 and, especially, to be in the class immortalized in his poem, To The Girls Of My Graduating Class. Typically, he would write about the girls and not the boys.

He taught me life, he taught me passion, he taught me to reach for the unreachable, he taught me love . . . most things that today would be politically incorrect in a classroom. Most importantly, he taught me "English." For me, an immigrant who arrived in Canada three years earlier, it was the greatest gift that anyone could have given me.

When in Montreal, I visited him several times at the Maimonedes geriatric centre. While it was heartbreaking to see him in the throes of his debilitating illness, even behind the cloud of his pipe smoke, his eyes still sparkled and his voice still resonated. He still read his poetry as if he were in the classroom more than 50 years earlier.

Readers are invited to send 250-word reminiscences about people who have been the subject of a recent obituary (not a death notice) in The Globe. Submissions about a friend, colleague or loved one may be sent to: Obituaries Editor, The Globe and Mail, 444 Front St. W., Toronto, Ont., M5V 2S9. E-mail:


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