Thursday, January 05, 2006

JTA Global News article Jan 5

Canadian Jewish poet dies

Irving Layton, once described as “the Picasso and Mae West of poetry,” died Wednesday in Montreal at 93.

He was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Born Israel Pincu Lazarovitch in Tirgu Neamt, Romania, in 1912, his family immigrated to Canada in 1913.

His first collection of poetry, “Here and Now,” was published by First Statement Press in 1945. He also taught English literature in high school and then at the university level. Layton was known for his egoistic and abrasive personality and his dark view of humanity. He was married several times.

“He is our greatest poet, our greatest champion of poetry,” longtime friend, poet, novelist and singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen wrote from Los Angeles. “Alzheimer’s could not silence him and neither will death.”

Layton is survived by two sons and two daughters.

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