Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Pickering Public Library article Jan 5

Irving Layton, 93: Canada's Trailblazing Poet
January 5th, 2006

Irving Layton, one of the first Canadian poets to gain international stature and a controversial presence on the national scene for decades, died in Montreal on January 4th at the age of 93. "He is our greatest poet, our greatest champion of poetry," long-time friend Leonard Cohen proclaimed. "Alzheimer's could not silence him and neither will death."

Before Layton, Canadian poets tended to be regarded as tweedy romantics, celebrating nature in the Victorian tradition. Layton changed all that. His poetry owed more to his childhood experience of his acid-tongued mother and the verbal combativeness of the Jewish immigrant community in Montreal than it did to Longfellow or Wordsworth. He was also the first Canadian literary figure to use the media as a vehicle of self-promotion. A prolific letter writer, a mentor to generations of younger poets, including Al Purdy, he brought an energy and an excitement to the writing of poetry in Canada beginning in the 1950s.

For more information about Irving Layton, please read the story in the Globe and Mail or the CBC special biography. You can also find many books of his poetry at the Library, as well as books by those he influenced like Al Purdy and Leonard Cohen.


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