Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Pontomac News article Jan 5

http://customwire.ap.org
Republished Associated Press article

WGMS Classical station, Washington posting

http://www.classical1035.com/index.php?nid=17

DW-World.de, Germany article Jan 8

http://www2.dw-world.de/romanian/kultur/1.167160.1.html
Ştiri culturale
January 8, 2006

Calendarul pricipalelor manifestări ale „Anului Mozart”; pianistul-poet Alfred Brendel la 75 de ani; ce oferă vizitatorilor oraşul portuar elen Patras, capitala culturală europeană în 2006; la moartea poetului canadian, originar din România, Irving Layton.

La Salzburg seria manifestărilor dedicate în acest an celui mai de seamă fiu al oraşului începe cu un spectacol în aer liber pe 27 ianaurie, când se împliniesc 250 de ani de la naşterea lui Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Tot atunci se deschide şi expoziţia „Viva! Mozart 2006“. Şi festivalul din Salzburg se va afla în acest an sub semnul aniversării compozitorului de excepţie. Punctul culminant al „Salzburger Festspiele“ va fi noua înscenare a „Flautului fermecat“ în regia lui Pierre Audi, la pupitrul Filarmonicii din Viena aflându-se Riccardo Muti. La Viena debutează tot în 27 ianuarie un imens spectacol pe tot cuprinsul metropolei austriece „Ein Fest für Mozart“. Expoziţii, numeroase concerte, mai cu seamă cele prezentate pe parcursul „Wiener Festwochen“ din lunile mai şi iunie, prezentări de film şi carte vor face parte din programul Mozart.

Şi alte oraşe oferă un amplu şi interesant program dedicat genialului compozitor: Augsburg, oraşul natal al tatălui lui Mozart, Leopold, Praga, unde în prezenţa compozitorului a avut loc în anul 1787 premeira operei „Don Giovanni“, dar şi la München, Würzburg şi Hamburg.

Pianistul–poet Alfred Brendel a împlinit săptămâna aceasta 75 de ani. Cu acest prilej casa de discuri Philips a realiazt un CD cu o selecţie din cariera sa de peste 5 decenii, întocmită de artist însuşi. Pe disc se găsesc compoziţii de Mozart, Schumann, Schubert sau Liszt. Alfred Brendel s-a născut în Moravia, la 5 ianuarie 1931, a urmat cursurile şcolii la Zagreb, unde a trăit şi grozăviile rãzboiului, primul său concert l-a susţinut apoi la Graz la vârsta de 17 ani. Dupã acest debut strălucit, Brendel, germano-austriac, însă cu înfluenţe italiene precum şi slave, care au marcat fără îndoialã caracterul şi stilul inconfundabil al intepretărilor sale, a devenit un oaspete nelipsit al marilor scene de concert ale lumii, periplul său pe mai multe continente întrerupându-l atunci când vrea să se dedice scrisului sau poeziei. El nu este numai pianist ci şi pictor, poet, totodatã autor de cărţi biografice şi de teoria muzicii, volumul său cel mai apreciat de critici a apărut, mai întâi în versiune englezã, în 1976 sub titlul "Musical thoughts and afterthoughts", iar în limba germană "Nachdenken über Musik", "Reflecţii despre muzică". "Compoziţia este cea care-i indică interpetului ce are de făcut şi nu invers", afirma adesea Brendel.

Oraşul portuar , Patras, pe care locuitorii îl numesc „poarta spre occident a Greciei“ al treilea ca mărime al ţării are titlul de capitală culrtală europeană în 2006. Patras s-a pregătit ca atare să primească vizitatori de pretutindei cu un program în valore de 17,5 milioane de euro. Între cele nu mai puţin de 150 de manifestări se numără expoziţia „Leonardo da Vinci“, numeroase spectacole cu tragedii antice, de poezie şi muzică. Un moment central al evenimentelor îl constitue carnavalul, cu care Patras atrage an de an turişti nu doar din Grecia, şi care anul acesta va dura şase săptămâni, din 21 ianuarie până pe 5 martie.

Unul din cei mai de seamă poeţi şi publicişti canadieni, Irving Layton s-a stins din viaţă în acestă săptămână la vârsta de 93 de ani, răpus după o lungă suferinţă de maladia Alzheimer. Israel Pincu Lazarovitch, sub acest nume s-a născut poetul în 1912 în Târgul Neamţ. Un an mai trâziu a emigrat cu părinţii în Canda unde a crescut într-un cartier sărac din Montreal, St. Urbain Street, devenit însă celebru mai târziu prin povestirile lui Mordecai Richler. Layton a fost un scriitor prolific, mai cu seamă în anii 70 şi 80, publicând peste 40 de volume de-a lungul vieţii, propus în 1982 şi pentru premiul Nobel pentru literatură.

Muzicianul Leonard Cohen, el însuşi poet, căruia Leyton i-a fost profesor în anii 50, devendindu-i apoi mentor şi prieten, spunea în aceste zile: „Irving Layton este cel mai mare poet al nostru, maladia Alzheimer nu a reuşit să-l reducă la tăcere, tot aşa n-o va putea face nici moartea.“

Medana Weident

My Telus website Jan 9

http://www.mytelus.com/news/article.do?pageID=news_home&articleID=2137617
news home
Monday, Jan 09, 2006
Nobel-nominated poet Layton remembered for influence, talent

Poet Irving Layton is shown at his Montreal home on March 3, 1997. (CP/Montreal Gazette-Richard Arless Jr)

MONTREAL (CP) - Irving Layton, whose poetry earned him a Nobel Prize nomination, was remembered Sunday as a man who inspired people to lofty goals with his words and yet viewed the world with a playful optimism.

"He was like a boy, he was my wild, peculiar boy," Anna Pottier, his fifth wife, said after a service at a west-end funeral home.

"We were like two girls in a dorm, basically, talking and talking and laughing and talking and travelling."

Layton, who died Wednesday at age 93, was known by some as provocative and abrasive but Pottier spoke of the man who playfully tried to swipe bagels from a bakery and saw hope in blades of grass poking through cracks in city sidewalks.

Federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, who addressed the mourners at the funeral, later invoked Layton's "transformative impact" on the lives of Canadians and his outrage at injustice.

Cotler, who met Layton when the poet taught him in Grade 7, credited the poet with teaching him "how to think."

"I learned how to struggle for justice and the only way you can do that is by struggling against injustice," he said.

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"Irving Layton felt the injustice around him. His poetry was a means of conveying that message of injustice and mobilizing us in that struggle."

He described him as "a voice for the voiceless."

But it was as a literary icon that poet-singer Leonard Cohen remembered his friend. He brought one of Layton's books to the service and read from it.

"He is our greatest poet," Cohen said afterward. "Our greatest champion of poetry and these lines will endure and there is no sadness, no lamentation, no sorrow, no regret at this moment because that which Irving loved the best, which was his work, will survive him.

"There is no doubt generations to come will learn these verses and they will transcend any positions, any political strategies, any literary strategies. They're here, they're written in stone and they'll be read for a long, long time."

Layton died in a long-term care facility after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Pottier, who separated from Layton after his diagnosis in 1995, said it was hard to see him go downhill.

"To have watched a mountain be reduced to grains of sand - it was beyond me," she said.

During the time she knew him, she said she was astounded by his extraordinary energy.

"He crackled," she recalled, saying he lived up to his mother's nickname for him, which translated as "exploding flame."

"From the moment he woke up in the morning, to the minute he went to bed at night - all day long, just thinking and reading and writing and cogitating and confabulating." Then there might be a quick nap and then the whole process would start anew.

He wrote personal replies to anyone who wrote him and he didn't mind criticism, despite what some said.

"As long as people could marshall their facts and come at him with the passion that he had - bring it on," Pottier said. "He was very happy because of he was so sure of who he was."

A prolific writer, Layton published more than 40 books of poetry and prose during more than five decades.

He was named to the Order of Canada in 1976, held several university posts as poet-or writer- in-residence and was twice nominated for the Nobel Prize for literature. He was the only non- Italian to win Italy's Petrarch Award for Poetry.

Born Israel Lazarovitch in Romania on March 12, 1912, he was the youngest of seven children. His family immigrated to Canada when he was a year old and settled in a tough multiethnic neighbourhood of Montreal.

He started out writing for obscure literary magazines but gained widespread noteriety after winning the Governor General's Award in 1959. After that, he also became a familiar face on TV.

Media mogul Moses Znaimer, who also had Layton as a Grade 7 teacher, saw him then "as a rock star."

Znaimer said Layton drew criticism for his showmanship in the public eye but suggested his flamboyance made him a trailblazer for the celebrity-fixated society of the future.

"It was the showmanship that fused him in the public imagination and allowed him to do his work that much better," said Znaimer.

"I learned something from that exercise, that the new electronic media, the power of the image fused with the words is what the new poetry, the next generation poetry, would have to be like."

He sees Layton as "larger than life and someone who will last above all. I'm sure that's what he wanted and he should rest easy. I think the work will last."

That was echoed by Pottier, who said Layton's work is reaching a new audience slowly as his work is posted on the Internet. Layton had been out of print until last year.

Samantha Bernstein, Layton's daughter by his fourth wife and one of his four children, said people could remember her father by reading more. They should check out his work, she said with a smile, because "it shakes things up a lot more than most of the other poets."

But people should draw other lessons from Layton than from words on a page, she added.

"He ought to be remembered for his love of life, I think, most of all for his tremendous joy in living," she said. "He loved to inspire people by his joy, his sheer joy. That's what I think people should remember. There's not enough of that."

© The Canadian Press, 2006

Boston.com article Jan 9

http://www.boston.com
Irving Layton, 93, considered leading poet in Canada
By Reuters | January 9, 2006

TORONTO -- Irving Layton, one of Canada's most influential writers, whose powerful, sexually charged poetry often shocked critics in the 1940s and '50s, died Wednesday. He was 93.

The professor, writer and poet had suffered from Alzheimer's disease since 1994, and died in a long-term care facility in his hometown of Montreal.

One of the most published writers in North America, his early poetry focused on love and sex, making staid Canadians blush at his sometimes bawdy subject matter, and prompting critics to attack him for his radicalism.

As a result, the larger-than-life Mr. Layton had as many enemies as friends, and was considered a fierce debater as well as an outspoken social and political critic.

With a reputation as a hell-raiser, he would often engage in public arguments with politicians, writers and friends in his crusade against Puritanism and uniformity, and became a regular on the CBC Television debate program ''Fighting Words".

Mr. Layton was named to the Order of Canada in 1976 and nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature in 1982. He published more than 40 books in his lifetime.

In the foreword to ''A Red Carpet for the Sun", which won Canada's Governor General's Award for literature in 1959, Mr. Layton offered insight into his view of the world when he wrote that ''poetry, by giving dignity and utterance to our distress, enables us to hope, makes compassion reasonable."

Fellow Montrealer and poet, Leonard Cohen, a former student and protégé of Mr. Layton's, once said, ''I taught him how to dress, he taught me how to live forever."

Mr. Layton was born Israel Lazarovitch in the small town of Tirgul Neamt, Romania, in 1912. His family immigrated to Canada in 1913 and he grew up near St. Urbain Street in Montreal, the same Jewish neighborhood that novelist Mordecai Richler made famous in many of his works.

After a stint in the Canadian Army during World War II, Mr. Layton completed his graduate work at Montreal's McGill University in 1946, and went on to teach for many years.

He was at his most prolific in the 1970s and '80s, publishing a book almost every year.

© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.

Ottawa Citizen acticle Jan 9

http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen
January 9, 2006

Nobel-prize nominated poet remembered for his pizazz
Canadian wordsmiths, justice minister attend sombre Layton memorial

Irving Layton was celebrated at his funeral yesterday for his bold verses and promotion of Canadian poets, including himself.
Photograph by : Richard Arless Jr., The Montreal Gazette

William Marsden, The Montreal Gazette; with files from The Canadian Press
Published: Monday, January 09, 2006

MONTREAL - Irving Layton, one of Canada's greatest and most prolific contemporary poets, was celebrated at his funeral yesterday for his flamboyant creativity, bold verses and unflinching promotion of Canadian letters -- and of himself.

The funeral was an uncharacteristically sombre affair for a man who was -- and will continue to be in verse -- so powerful and boisterous a voice.

Other than a recitation of kaddish -- the Jewish prayer for the dead -- the funeral had little religious content, befitting an irreverent artist whose spiritual home was verse.

Canadian poets were dominant speakers, beginning with Samantha Bernstein, Layton's daughter by his fourth wife and one of his four children.

She opened the funeral by reading a poem she wrote to her father in 2002.

It was a poem about reading Layton's poetry, making light of his often wordy, encyclopedic style and his need to assault the stiff sensitivities of Canadian society.

"I read four poems and look up six words/ Two of them are not in my dictionary/ With gusto he pissed people off."

"He was like a boy, he was my wild, peculiar boy," Anna Pottier, Layton's fifth wife, said after the service at a west-end funeral home.

Layton, who died Wednesday at age 93, was known by some as provocative and abrasive, but Pottier spoke of the man who playfully tried to swipe bagels from a bakery and saw hope in blades of grass poking through cracks in sidewalks.

Layton died in a long-term care facility after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Pottier, who separated from Layton after his diagnosis in 1995, said it was hard to see him go downhill.

"To have watched a mountain be reduced to grains of sand -- it was beyond me," she said.

Author of more than 50 books of poetry, Layton was named to the Order of Canada in 1976, held several university posts and was nominated for the Nobel Prize for literature in 1982.

Federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, who addressed the mourners at the funeral, later invoked Layton's "transformative impact" on the lives of Canadians and his outrage at injustice.

Cotler, who met Layton when the poet taught him in Grade 7, credited the poet with teaching him "how to think."

"I learned how to struggle for justice, and the only way you can do that is by struggling against injustice," he said.

"Irving Layton felt the injustice around him. His poetry was a means of conveying that message of injustice and mobilizing us in that struggle."

He described him as "a voice for the voiceless."

Media mogul Moses Znaimer, who also had Layton as a Grade 7 teacher, saw him then "as a rock star."

Znaimer described him as a man who was willing to "play the role of a poet, a man who was willing to fuse his personality with the work.

"He realized you could teach with celebrity and glamour and move people not only by the words, but by the force of your personality."

Znaimer said Layton drew criticism for his showmanship in the public eye but suggested his flamboyance made him a trailblazer for the celebrity-fixated society of the future.

Poet and singer Leonard Cohen, looking quietly sartorial in a light grey peaked cap and a long brown coat with a fur collar, said to subdued laughter among the 250 mourners: "Irving would be very annoyed if there were this many people here and none of his poems were read."

Noting that Layton will continue to live in his poetry, he recited a Layton poem, The Graveyard, about the regenerative capabilities of opposing forces.

"He is our greatest poet," Cohen said afterward. "Our greatest champion of poetry and these lines will endure and there is no sadness, no lamentation, no sorrow, no regret at this moment because that which Irving loved the best, which was his work, will survive him.

"There is no doubt generations to come will learn these verses and they will transcend any positions, any political strategies, any literary strategies. They're here, they're written in stone and they'll be read for a long, long time."

The Ottawa Citizen article Jan 9

http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen
January 9, 2006
Picture of Leonard Cohen with Layton's newest published book in his hand

Leonard Mourns His Mentor: Leonard Cohen carries a copy of an Irving Layton book as he leaves yesterday's funeral for Mr. Layton in Montreal. Mr. Cohen, a fellow Montrealer and poet, read the Layton poem The Graveyard at the service, explaining, 'Irving would be very annoyed if there were this many people here and none of his poems were read.' Story on Page B1

© The Ottawa Citizen 2006

Jurnalul National, Romania article Jan 5

http://www.jurnalul.ro/articol_43715/omagiu___cohen__elevul_unui_poet_roman.html
Omagiu - Cohen, elevul unui poet roman
de Dana Cobuz

S-a nascut in 1912, la Targu Neamt (Romania), sub numele de Israel Lazarovici. Era cel de-al optulea copil al unei familii de evrei, care au emigrat, in 1913, in Canada.
A scris peste 40 de volume de versuri si eseuri, care i-au adus si o nominalizare la Premiul Nobel pentru literatura. In 1976 a primit distinctia "Ordinul Canadei". A avut patru copii si cinci sotii. Romano-canadianul Irving Layton a trecut in nefiinta la inceputul acestei luni, intr-o clinica din Montreal, dupa o lunga suferinta pricinuita de Alzheimer. Layton este considerat unul dintre poetii contemporani de marca ai Canadei. La slujba de inmormantare au participat fostii sai studenti, ministrul canadian al Justitiei, Irwin Cotler, si cantaretul-poet Leonard Cohen. "Munca lui Irving ii va supravietui, fara indoiala. Sunt scrijelite in piatra", a spus Cohen, unul dintre cei mai cunoscuti elevi ai lui Layton.

Southern Europe Erotica & Sex News article Jan 5

www.einnews.com/SouthernEurope/newsfeed-SouthernEuropeSexErotica+irving+layton
Southern Europe Erotica & Sex News
January 5, 2006

Nobel Prize nominated poet Irving Layton dies in Montreal at 93 5 Jan 2006 00:00 GMT
... - Irving Layton, whose gritty, satiric and erotic poems left an indelible mark on Canada's ... literature in 1982. Layton was the first non-Italian to receive Italy's Petrarch Award for Poetry.

NOW magazine article April 7 2005

http://www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2005-04-07/news_story7.php
Flog me, I'm a poet
I tremble to say I inflict torturing rhymes on unanaesthetized students
BY Robert Priest

When poet T. S. Eliot called April the cruellest month, he may have been more prophetic than he knew - not just because spring mixes memory with desire, as he lamented, but because April is now National Poetry Month, and poetry is so cruel.

If you doubt this, consider this excerpt from a poem by Canada's best and worst living poet, Irving Layton. "When reading me I want you to feel / as if I had ripped your skin off, / or gouged out your eyes with my fingers, / or scalped you and afterwards / burnt your hair in the staring sockets." Ouch.

Of course, Layton is now considered by some to be an old-fashioned poet. Cruelty has advanced. Developments in poetics and philosophy have given our current poets access to techniques that enable them to connect the most interesting words and concepts in such a way as to render them instantly dead or inert. The result: utter boredom, a torture that can be stunningly amplified by the right kind of droning delivery.

What once required thumbscrews and a rack can now be accomplished by a simple thing called an "author visit." To this end, poets will be shipped across the land throughout the month of April to inflict their wares on well-prepped schoolchildren conveniently strapped into desks and chairs without benefit of blindfold or anesthesia.

This is not to point the finger. Let me confess: I will be one of those poets. And not for the first time. Indeed, I tremble to say, I have put my poetic fire to the feet of school systems, libraries, nurseries, old age homes, cafés and church basements for the past 30 years. I have been merciless. But I have an excuse. I was administered the poetry torment from the earliest possible age.

My mother, as a child in Britain during the Blitz, memorized and recited with her class in the dark of the air raid shelters The Highwayman, by Alfred Noyes, a sonorous and violent epic she had no reservations about declaiming to me whenever I misbehaved. How I winced at the torments of poor Bess, trussed up as bait for the highwayman. "She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!"

A strange energy emanated from that poem into my own body, and remains to this day. No wonder I feel compelled to impose the word on others.

No, I don't blame myself, or even the Modernists; it was the advent of rhyme in the 12th century that brought all this on. Suddenly, to meet the constraints of forms like sonnets and villanelles, poets found themselves wilfully torturing syntax, tormenting sentences. What did they expect? What we do with words, eventually we do to each other. Hence National Poetry Month; hence this age of sawbones, word surgeons, bleeders, collagists and language poets. Ouch.

But it's not just the innocent public that poets delight in afflicting. They save their worst for each other. The favoured method is to offer prizes. This week will see the announcement, for instance, of the shortlist for the $40,000 Griffin Prize, the downside of which is that three poets actually get nominated and are therefore briefly happy. The upside, though, is those thousands who don't win.

This is so effective a measure for torturing poets, there is even a suggestion that next year, instead of announcing the three who made the shortlist, the long list of all those who don't win ought to be read out. I thought I'd become inured to such tactics, but I have to admit when the Toronto poet laureate position went to the second WMD (white male dude) in a row, and a Catholic priest to boot, my "feminist within" began to scream in pain and fury.

But it didn't last long. Now I'm into it. I say let's go for three WMDs in a row – but just as a nod to Toronto's reputation as the diverse city, let's pick a priest from a different religion next time, maybe a Satanist or a cannibal. That should be really hurtful.

So, if you've been bad, or if you're a masochist, or if you are so perverse that you actually like poetry, this is the month to take a licking. There are plenty of slams and jams, readings and beatings where you can have your hide flayed by a state-funded professional. Visit www.poets.ca for a complete list.

Sacramento Bee article Jan 6

www.sacbee.com
Republished Associated Press article.

Lancaster Online, Pennsylvania article Jan 5

http://ap.lancasteronline.com/4/obit_layton
Republished Associated Press article, Jan 5.

Topeka and Shawnee Public Library, Kansas posting Jan 5

http://papercuts.tscpl.org/2006/01/poet_irving_layton_dead_at_93.html
Poet Irving Layton dead at 93

Canadian poet Irving Layton died at a Montreal long-term care facility on Wednesday, January 4, 2006. He was 93 years old. Find more news here.

Read more about his life and poetry here.

Order any of Irving Layton's works through Interlibrary Loan using OCLC and your library card.

Posted on January 05, 2006 by Meghan at 02:36 PM

Pickering Public Library article Jan 5

http://pub.picnet.org/blog/item/89/
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.

Vancouver Public Library posting Jan 8

This week's Hot Sites selected by our Language & Literature Division
http://www.vpl.ca/home.html
Irving Layton, Poet 1912-2006

One of Canada's greatest poets, Irving Layton, died, at age 93, on January 4th. Layton is a fascinating artist, legendary for his bombast and flamboyant life as well as his wonderful poetry.

The Official Irving Layton Page: Here you can listen to recordings of Layton's readings, post your responses to his death and his writings, and read a short biography of his life.

The Encyclopedia Britannica's Layton entry: This encyclopedia entry discusses the importance of Layton's work in Canadian literature, and links to many useful sites.

The Globe & Mail Obituary: Sandra Martin's obituary includes Leonard Cohen's tribute poem, "Irving and Me at the Hospital".

Pajamas Media article Jan 8

http://news.pajamasmedia.com/entertainment/2006/01/08/6889294_Nobelnominated_p.shtml
Republished Canadian Press article by Jonathan Montpetit, Jan 5

Bravo News article Jan 5

http://www.bravo.ca/bravonews/index.asp?storyID=16914
Republished Canadian Press article by Jonathan Montpetit, Jan 5

Oh! Montreal - An Open Letter

http://www.mytown.ca/ev.php?URL_ID=108868&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201
January 6, 2006

Irving Layton
by R.A. Lucas

6 January 2006

I never met Irving Layton. Didn't know him at all, yet he touched me in many ways. When I first started writing poetry it was a little like wetting the bed. That is, it was somewhat embarrassing. No one in my family had written poetry seriously since my grandfather on my father's side. He had come from a family of writers and editors and teachers and when they found his body in a trench in France toward the end of World War One they found a small notebook filled with his hand-written poetry. No one seems to know what happened to it. But all of that skipped a generation and one day I found myself compelled by forces beyond my control to put my thoughts on paper. I was, perhaps 12. Usually poetry is something you grow out of, like pants, or shoes. But I persisted and as I continued to write I started to read. Like many struggling writers and particularly poets back then, I read Cohen, and Pratt, Birney, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Donald Justice, Yevgeny Yevtuschenko, e.e.cummings, who had the biggest influence on my early attempts at writing, and then Irving Layton.

Irving Layton was considered somewhat dirty back then. Dirty in the way Peyton Place was considered dirty by some. He dealt with life in real terms and readers who expected poetry to be about flowers and sweet love were shocked by the bold passion and stark language he used. He was a little ahead of his time. As he started publishing in the late 1940s, the bohemian lifestyle many young men had experienced in Europe after WWII transformed in to the Beat generation of the 50s and Irving Layton's cold realistic and sometimes harsh imagery married well with the new Beatnik view of life from just outside polite society. The emergence of hippies in the 1960s and the mantra of Make Love Not War brought a new generation to discover the sexual energy of his words. I fell somewhere between the two. When I started writing the 60s had not quite dawned and being a beatnik was about the coolest thing you could be. Somewhere someone may have a few of my earliest bits of rhyme about a character called Bongo Louie. Like I said, it was a lot like wetting the bed. But his bold, forceful writing allowed me to stretch beyond doggerel. I experimented and while I often found my own writing weak I knew that I wanted to write. That I wanted to be a writer.

Once my working career started, although I continued to write I became interested in the publishing end of things and was involved in two different publishing ventures. My business partner in both was the writer Edward Pickersgill who is behind this website. Much later in my career, I contacted Ed to help me create a glossy magazine to help promote the radio station I was running in Montreal. True to form, Ed took control and I could go back to concentrating on my real job while this venture began to take shape. One day he wandered into my office. "Irving Layton is moving back to Montreal." I suppose the look on my face told him I needed some more information. Ed told me he thought if we were going to do a magazine about Montreal it would be hard to ignore one if its most famous sons, Irving Layton. He had contacted the poet, told him of our plans for the magazine and, apparently, based on this act of faith we were making - the magazine was called The New Montrealer - Layton had not only committed to writing a piece, but had also decided to move back to the city where he had grown up.

The article Layton wrote, titled Oh! Montreal - An Open Letter, began with the frank honesty everyone had come to expect from him by then: "You will always remain in my memory the city of churches, brothels and writers. They were the three stepping stones of my mental and spiritual evolution." He also gave us permission to reproduce one of his poems. I loved the magazine. Ed had not let me down and I thought we had produced a beautiful publication as well as a viable property to offer in a city that badly needed a city magazine. The company that owned the radio station I managed liked the idea of the magazine but their business was broadcasting and so we were only allowed to get that one edition out. But I still have a few copies and reading Layton's words again shortly after I had heard of his passing, cheered me in a way the sight of an old friend can. Although I had never met him, we were linked through an accident of time and place. What he did for Montreal and what he did for our magazine back in 1983 will live with me forever.

Writers will sing his praises and there is no doubt he will remain a fixture in Canadian literature for all time. He will always be missed but more importantly, he will always be read.

KSL, Utah article Jan 5

http://www.ksl.com/index.php?nid=198&sid=146976
Republished Canadian Press article by N. Wyatt, Jan 8.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer article Jan 5

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1101AP_Obit_Layton.html
Republished Associated Press article, Jan 5.

Thank you Israel Pincu Lazarovitch

Robert Austin from Whitehorse, Canada writes:

An icon has been lost.But, don't forget, as Layton himself wrote,

"It's a kind of magic"

" I turned away and wept"

"and felt the rock move beneath my hand"

Thank you Israel Pincu Lazarovitch.

* Posted Jan. 4, 2006 at 9:18 PM EST

Posted on Globe & Mail Comments

Reasonable Compassion

Terry-Lynn Johnson from Thunder Bay, Canada writes:

I will not pretend to be familiar with Irving Layton's poetry, as I have had only brief introduction to him and have not spent much time in study of his lines. The tribute that I am able to give is to spend some quiet time over the next few days appreciating his verse and philosophies.

Poetry, by giving dignity and utterance to our distress, enables us to hope, makes compassion reasonable.

("Foreword," A Red Carpet for the Sun, 1959)

* Posted Jan. 4, 2006 at 8:51 PM EST

Posted on Globe & Mail Comments

The Pole Vaulter, a Most Inspirational Thing

Brian Bell from Toronto, Canada writes:

To this day (and I've had plenty) The Pole Vaulter is the most inspirational thing I have ever read. Thank you Mr. Layton.

* Posted Jan. 4, 2006 at 8:11 PM EST

Posted on Globe & Mail Comments

Mistaken Identity

chantal - from Vancouver, Canada writes:

I read this headline too fast and thought it said that Jack Layton died at 93. I thought perhaps the stress of Harper's antics aged him with supernatural celerity and caused his sudden demise.

* Posted Jan. 4, 2006 at 7:28 PM EST

Posted on Globe & Mail Comments

Layton Poem

Laura Dover from Calgary, Canada writes: Berry Picking (Irving Layton)

Silently my wife walks on the still wet furze
Now darkgreen the leaves are full of metaphors
Now lit up is each tiny lamp of blueberry.
The white nails of rain have dropped and the sun is free.

And whether she bends or straightens to each bush
To find the children's laughter among the leaves
Her quiet hands seem to make the quiet summer hush--
Berries or children, patient she is with these.

I only vex and perplex her; madness, rage
Are endearing perhaps put down upon the page;
Even silence daylong and sullen can then
Enamor as restraint or classic discipline.

So I envy the berries she puts in her mouth,
The red and succulent juice that stains her lips;
I shall never taste that good to her, nor will they
Displease her with a thousand barbarous jests.

How they lie easily for her hand to take,
Part of the unoffending world that is hers;
Here beyond complexity she stands and stares
And leans her marvelous head as if for answers.

No more the easy soul my childish craft deceives
Nor the simpler one for whom yes is always yes;
No, now her voice comes to me from a far way off
Though her lips are redder than the raspberries.

* Posted Jan. 4, 2006 at 7:16 PM EST

Posted on Globe & Mail Comments

Writer's Craft Classes

v r from vancouver, Canada writes:

Reading this news, I am bombarded by memories of high school. Memories of OAC English and Writer's Craft classes. While the news is sad, I am smiling. Rest in Peace Mr. Layton, and thank you.

* Posted Jan. 4, 2006 at 5:14 PM EST

Posted on the Globe & Mail Comments

Fare-Thee-Well My Love

January 5, 2006

PincuVing, Irving Rabbenu, my Biscuit Boy, fare-thee-well my love. You knew, and I know you knew, that since that car-wreck of a day in 1995 when you helped me to leave and start my own life, there have been maybe a grand total of 6 days where I did not think of you. This city, our streets, our home, our life together was an extraordinary adventure, and I am glad to have brought you so much happiness, not to mention 'productive joy' for so many years. Thank you for all that you taught me, all that you showed me, and for your unconditional love in which I revelled, grew, and lived so intensely. I know that you know all of this, and more. Bye, love, bye.
A.

Anna Pottier (NDG, QC )
annapottier@hotmail.com

Posted on Legacy.com

I Thank the Gods for Your Inspiration

January 5, 2006

Ever since I read your poems in the sixties and dared to show you my translations of some of them in the seventies and eighties, I felt it had been one of the greatest priviledges of my life to have met you as a poet and as a man.
You inspired me and I thank the Gods for this.

Jean Antonin Billard (Roxton Falls, QC )
antonin@sympatico.ca

Posted on Legacy.com

My Great Uncle Irving

January 5, 2006

Although, Irving was my great uncle (his sister, Gertie, was my grandmother) I only met him once or twice. I am learning a great deal about him thorugh all the online information posted recently. I look forward to reading his books (I have many that belonged to my late mother, Irving's niece). My thoughts are sent to family and friends.

Stephanie Green (Short Hills, NJ )

Posting on Legacy.com

Layton's Personal Secretary Remembers

January 5, 2006

When Irving Layton was the writer-in-residence at Concordia University, I was his personal secretary. It was a fun-filled year of laughs, energy and high drama. The one thing that always stayed in my mind was when he told me he had a cat named Puss-Puss. Although he was a man of creative words it always amazed me that his cat had the most simple of feline names. I think that was part of his humour. Rest in peace Irving.

Sylvia Benedetti(Montreal, QC )
sylviab@videotron.ca

Posting from Legacy.com

Patient and Unhurried

January 5, 2006

In the mid-1960’s, my mother Nina Bruck, was among Irving Layton’s workshop students at Sir George Williams. I recall the rush of energy called my mother, swirling through the house to her desk, in the wake of each night class with Mr. Layton. In 1966, the class published Anvil, a slim, blue anthology, as testament to what a group of apprentice writers had made at the master’s forge. My mother wrote one of the two introductions. Here is a brief excerpt:

...Irving Layton is the workshop, unassuming, witty, gentle, an image difficult to reconcile with the public one of Flashing Irreverence routinely smashing idols on its way to the corner store for a pack of cigarettes. Patient and unhurried, he sacrifices quantity for quality, and is prepared to wait; encourages his students to listen to their inner voice and what it is trying to say, to attempt to express certain conflicts and dissatisfactions in a meaningful way...Part of the poetic picture is the grinding work, the endless polishing of lines. People write because they have to; out of defeat and desire, perhaps, a few poems, occaisonally, a perfect line. The itch persists.

Julie Bruck (San Francisco, CA )

Posting on Legacy.com

Solace in the Afterlife

January 5, 2006

To the late Mr.Layton, Thank you for having the courage to always write what was on your mind and in your heart. I hope the afterlife brings you solice and that you rejoice in knowing the world is not as bad as you may have once thought.
Your spirit will live on evermore.

Melissa Constant (Ste-Anne-De-Bellevue, QC )

Posting on Legacy.com

Baron Byng Memory

January 5, 2006

My first encounter with Mr. Layton was as a student at Baron Byng High School, in the 1950's when he spoke at the History and Literature club.
As the nurse in the Memory Clinic at the Jewish Generaal Hospital, we met again. His vitality and strengh,and keen mind shone through his illness. My condolences to his dear and loyal friend Musia, who cared for him through it all.
Sincerely,

Marlene Levine(Deerfield Beach, FL )

Posting on Legacy.com

A Special Man

January 5, 2006

It is so sad to lose such a special man. His writing will always hold a special place in my heart.

Victoria Malone (Bournemouth, England)
vickymalone@msn.com

Posting on Legacy.com

Dear Max, Naomi, David and Samantha

January 5, 2006

Dear Max, Naomi, David, and Samantha,

My late mother, Goldie Satten Levine (1910-2002)taught with your father at the Herzliya High School in Montreal. She followed his career with great interest and always spoke so highly of his contribution to Canadian culture.
Sincerely

Esther Davis (nee Levine)(Oakville,, ON )
estherrivadavis@hotmail.com

Posting on Legacy.com

Israel Memories

January 5, 2006

I was deeply saddened by the death of my teacher who influenced my life and helped me become the person I am. I was a student of Irving Layton at Herzliah High school in the late 40's. He turned me on to poetry specifically and to literature generally. He taught me to love the English language and to respect words. We remained friends through all these years. We had dinner together at my home when he last visited Israel. I extend sympathy to his family.
May he rest in peace.

Shoshana(Rose) Tessler(Freedman) (Jerusalem)
hstes@inter.net.il

Posted om Legacy.com

Love Transcends Thick Skulls

January 5, 2006

Irving Layton taught me grade 11 English in 1966-1967 at Ross High School in Montreal, a prep school for seriously underachieving teenagers. He was there as a result of his long friendship with Harold Ross after whom the school was named. To say that we were not the most academic class he had ever tutored would be a master understatement, but somehow his energy and passion were able to impact on many of us and his zest for life and love somehow transcended even our thick skulls and has to this day left an everlasting impression. His legacy will live on undiminished.

birks bovaird (toronto, ON )
bbovaird@cenitcorp.com

Podting on Legacy.com

Mysteries of His Art

January 5, 2006

Mr. Layton was a fine poet, whose vitality, ego and deep love of the mysteries of his art will be remembered.

Nigel Roth (Montreal, QC )

Posting from Legacy.com

Passion and Intensity

January 5, 2006

I never had the pleasure of meeting Irving Layton but I have talked with those who did. I certainly knew his works and his reputation. He brought a level of passion and intensity to the Canadian poetic landscape that fires it still. He is gone but his legacy will live on for a very long time.

A. M. Hatfield (Toronto, ON )

Passion and Integrity

January 5, 2006

I never had the pleasure of meeting Irving Layton but I have talked with those who did. I certainly knew his works and his reputation. He brought a level of passion and intensity to the Canadian poetic landscape that fires it still. He is gone but his legacy will live on for a very long time.

A. M. Hatfield (Toronto, ON )

Letter to Naomi

January 5, 2006

My condolences Naomi. We were friends such a long time ago, and I wonder about you often. I remember your father Irving vividly, as who could forget such a presence? Take care, my friend.

Phyl Davies (Vancouver, BC )

Posting on Legacy.com

Irving's Insights Into the Human Condition

January 5, 2006

Irving Layton inspired many high school and college students with his poetry. His vision of the world and his insights into the human condition will live on through more generations yet born. Thank you Irving Layton for being one of Montreal's greats. Your light lives on.

Peter Ellis (Brampton, ON )
peterellis@myway.com

Posting on Legacy.com

Letter to Max

January 5, 2006

To Max,

I am so sorry to hear of your Dad's passing. Both of you are part of my childhood and high school years. I did run into your Dad again when he was living in Niagara and we were able to share memories of living in the wonderfully diverse NDG neighbourhood of Somerled-Wilson Avenue. He of course spoke of you. Please accept my condolences upon the loss of your Dad.
You take care.
Regards,

Françoise (née Garneau) Hubley (St. Catharines, ON )

Posting on Legacy.com

A Legacy

January 5, 2006

May you rest in peace! Your legacy will always be with us!
From a survivor & proud to be Canadian.

Carolina Caruso (LaSAlle, QC )
carolinac@videotron.ca

Posting on Legacy.com

A Star Never to be Forgotton

January 6, 2006

My deepest condolences to his family. He was my Grade VII teacher at Herzliah High in the late 40's. He was a "star" in his own right...never forgotten.

David Libman (Montreal, QC )
goldielibman@sympatico.ca

Posting on Legacy.com

A Contribution to Canada

January 6, 2006

I send my condolences to the family and friends of Irving Layton who has passed away. May he be remembered for the work he did and for the contributions he made to Canadian literature.

John Jackson (Edmonton, AB )

Posting on Legacy.com

Irving vs the Almighty

January 6, 2006

I met Irving,some 15 years ago, at Sandra Rich Goodwin's house, widow of the late Bill Goodwin (Goldberg) who was Irving's nephew and best friend. I have since enjoyed many conversations with him. Irving used to call me 'Houdini' because he said I appeared and disappeared so often. My last meeting with Irving was on Monday, just two days before he died. I played a medley of Yiddish songs on the piano in the dining room of the 4th floor of Maimonides and Irving, seated with his devoted caregiver, Diane, was serenaded by a flourish of Yiddish music. I hope this eased your passage to heaven! Irving, you meant so much to so many! May your soul rise quickly to The Celestial Academy where I am certain you will enter into debate with the Almighty regarding the plight of humanity!

Rikee Gutherz-Madoff (Montreal, QC )
rikeemadoff@hotmail.com

Posting on Legacy.com

Condolences From a A Cote St Luc Babysitter

January 7, 2006

To Max and Naomi,

My condolences to you both, as your baby-sitter on Kildare in Cote St Luc, I remember your Dad so well, often in the company of Leonard Cohen and Louis Dudek. It is nice to have seen him rise to be one of Canada's most famous poets.

Madlynn Teiber (Chateauguay, QC )
madlynn_teiber@hotmail.com

Posting on Legacy.com

1930s Memory of the Montreal Hebrew Orphans Home

January 7, 2006

Mr.Layton was a supervisor at the Montreal Hebrew Orphans Home in Westmount in the 30's. He taught debating and english, he was very well likes by all.

Myer Gordon for the M.H.O.H Alumni (Toronto, ON )

myer_gordon@sympatico.ca

Posted on Legacy.com

A Ross High School Inspiration

January 7, 2006

A great teacher and humanitarian. Always remember our Literature classes at Ross High School in "62. Will always be an inspiration.

BARRY ROBINS (RICHMOND-HILL, ON )

Posting on Legacy.com

In a Coma All of Those Years, A Vision of Irving

January 7, 2006

The very first time I met Irving Layton I was a seventeen year old student at the Banff School of Fine Arts. As I sat down for breakfast at one of the big round tables in the school's cafeteria one morning, I looked up and immediately recognized Irving
Layton sitting across from me. The famous poet was wearing a black turtle neck sweater and gigantic gold medallion. We exchanged a few words, but his attention was more heavily invested in keeping up with five or six female students clustered
around him, chattering passionately.

Last night, two days after his death, Irving uncharacteristically made an appearance in my dreams. In the dream, the poet was his old robust self, wearing a white shirt, holding court in his home, surrounded by guests and four young children running around in the kitchen. It was almost like a scene from the 1960s, and I thought it was a little strange to see Irving Layton in such a domestic situation. As my wife and I walked into the kitchen, Irving warmly welcomed us. I hesitantly ventured, "But I thought you were dead." To which Irving replied in his booming familiar voice, very matter of factly: "Don't tell anybody. But I was in a coma all those years and just came out of it." He then ushered everyone toward a very long table in the middle of the dining room. Places were set for everyone, Irving presiding at one end, his wife at the other. Let the feast begin.

Geof Isherwood (Montreal, QC )

Posting from Legacy.com

The Maestro is Free

January 7, 2006

How life's ironies can unfold like butterflies from black cocoons. Butterflies, whose gold filigree of anticipation reveals itself between those ominous shadows, prepared to soar. Yet unseen beauty rumbling beneath the weight of it all.

My grandmother, who passed away in 1997, suffered through Alzheimers. Shortly after that time, when I heard that Irving Layton had become afflicted with that wretched disease, I was struck by the terrible irony of the fact that this uber-vibrant, life-affirming and deliciously-combative human being was resigned to that, of all fates.

Now, the maestro is free, the shackles of deterioration already turning to dust while he indulges in a freilech to end all freilechs, surrounded by all manner of heavenly bodies, embracing and trading toasts with long missed family, friends and colleagues. Most of all, his beloved Keine.

Sonja A. Skarstedt (Montreal, QC )

Posted on Legacy.com

A Most Influencial Person

January 7, 2006

This is a very sad day, which had to come. My great sadness is that such a fine mind went the way it did. He was my teacher from 1953-1957 in Herzliah High, and was one of the most influential people in my life. Shalom, Sir. Helena.

Helena Sandler (Powell River, BC )
saternamusic@shaw.ca

Posted on Legacy.com

Up My Fire Escape

January 7, 2006

I have memories of Irving running up my fire escape on Crescent Street wildly waving a paper and shouting "Helloooooo. I have a new poem. It's a masterpiece!" Dear Irving, if you can pause just a moment in straightening out the Big Guy, I'd like to thank you for the excitement, the love and the poems. Condolences to all who loved you, -- especially your long-time loyal friends, Musia Schwartz and Leonard Cohen.

Sandra Anderson (Beaudin) (Montreal, QC )
SandraAnderson_572@hotmail.com

Posted on Legacy.com

Grand Poems but Grander Spirit

January 7, 2006

Thank you Irving Layton for your grand poems and grander spirit.

karen coulter (toronto, ON )

Posted on Legacy.com

Avanti!

January 7, 2006

I am grateful to have had the privilege of being a student of Irving Layton at Concordia University in 1979. Attending his classes changed my life, not only because Professor Layton was an extraordinary and generous poet and teacher, but also because it was in his classroom that I met another admirer of Layton's poetry, Gerald,
who soon became my husband. I mourn the loss of my husband, and now of Professor Layton who encouraged us to continue to write throughout the years. And we did...inspired by his passion and love. Thank you, Irving Layton. Avanti! as you liked to say.

Anne Cimon (Montreal)
anne.cimon@sympatico.ca

Posted on Lgeacy.com

Blackboard Creations

January 7, 2006

I 'll never forget the year in the early fifties at Herzlia High School that Irving Layton taught us English Literature and Poetry - literally creating it on the blackboard in front of our eyes. It gave me a lifelong appreciation for poetry.

Bernard Sternthal
bernelco@hotmail.com

Posetd on Legacy.com

Sound Advice

January 7, 2006

Thanks for the sound advice... and glad to have read that book of yours when I found it...

Eric Williamson (Montreal, QC )
ewilliamson@mail-central.com

Posting on Legacy.com

The Whole World Loves You, Irving

January 7, 2006

To love, and be loved is the greatest gift. Thanks for all your great gifts. The whole world loves you. God bless.

L.B. (NB )

Posted on Legacy.com

1950s Connection

January 8, 2006

I was a neighbor and baby sitter for you in Cote St Luc in the 1950's.

Mary Teiber (Pictou, NS )

Posting on Legacy.com

A Strange Alliance

January 8, 2006

I would like to add my condolences to the family of Irving Layton.

My memories of Mr. Layton go way back to the time when I was about 7-8 years old. My father owned a printing business called, "Canada Mailing Service" which was located at 1190 University between Dorchester and Cathcart Streets in Montreal. My grandfather, Frederick Robinson, lived on the third floor of this building along with Mr. Layton who was a struggling poet and writer at the time, and well before he had made a name for himself. I have vivid memories of visiting my dad at the office and sneaking upstairs to watch and listen to these two men. The result of this strange alliance? A beautiful book of poetry written by my grandfather which I have treasured over the years.

Thank you, Mr. Layton for befriending a very lonely man who had recently lost his wife.

My thoughts are with the family.

Dorothy Mather (née Robinson) (Ottawa, ON )
genechaser@rogers.com

Posted on Legacy.com

Rest in Peace

January 8, 2006

Rest in peace.

Andrea Taylor (Montreal, QC )


Posted from Legacy.com

I am Endebted to Irving

January 8, 2006

Irving Layton was my first cousin twice removed (his mother and my grandmother were first cousins). More significantly, he was my teacher at Herzliah High School for most of my secular subjects for a period of three years (1953-1956). From Irving I learned Latin, history, English literature and, most memorably, composition. Each week he assigned an essay topic, and then thoroughly critiqued our very modest efforts. I was only 12-14 years old then, yet it was one of the best learning experiences that I have ever had. I only wish that more of my doctoral students were exposed to someone so dedicated to teaching writing. In addition, he opened our minds to poetry, inspired us to read and love good literature and exposed us to the works of important social critics. I feel very indebted to Irving, proud to be his cousin and grateful to have been his student. May his memory be for a blessing.

Stanley Messer (Highland Park, NJ )
smesser@rci.rutgers.edu

Posting from Legacy.com

The Muse of an Entire Post-War Era

January 9, 2006

As a child of the 50s, I saw Layton's impact on Canada. He was the muse of an entire post-war era. Simply put, the most learned, audacious, gifted, and talented poet we've had. Ave atque vale Magister!

Walter Bruno (Calgary, AB )
wbruno@shaw.ca

Posted on Legacy.com

Condolences from The Canadian Writers' Foundation

January 9, 2006

Sincere condolences to Mr. Layton's family from The Canadian Writers' Foundation.

The Canadian Writers' Foundation (Ottawa, ON )
smw.enterprises@sympatico.ca

Posted on Legacy.com

An Inspiration to our Family, blog entry, Jan 9 06

January 9, 2006

Sincere condolences to your family during this intensely sad time. Irving Layton was an inspiration to our family. May the memories of this great man, and all the support and love sent to you ,sustain you during this time.

The Karpman Family
donna karpman (hudson, QC )

Posted on Legacy.com

An Exuberant Crowd of Devotees, blog entry, Jan 9 06

January 9, 2006

Like many Canadians, I was saddened to learn about the passing of Irving Layton and digested the news with the sober realization that one of this country's great poets had just left a large hole in our nation's psyche.

I was lucky to hear Irving Layton read to a packed house at an independent bookstore on Wellington Street in 1990 and loved the experience of hearing his voice echo through the mid March, overheated, and exuberant crowd of devotees.
( All thanks to John Metcalfe.)

I am grateful for his passion and commitment to words; to making art and paving the way for others to legitimately place their major and minor muses on paper. And I wholeheartedly agree with him that 99.9999% of humanity are philistines.

Loretta Fleming (Ottawa, ON )
Posted Legacy.com

A Greyhound Introduction, blog entry, Jan 9 06

By Anonymous January 9

I first came across Irving Layton in an anthology of Canadian poetry when I was first discovering my own voice as a writer and an artist. Since then I have read several of his books including his biography and his life and work have helped me become the artist that I am today (I'm not sure if that is a compliment).

I found a signed copy of "Red Carpet for the Sun" at a yard sale a few years ago and started reading it on the greyhound on the way to my older brothers wedding and I forgot the book on the bus. I'm not upset. I hope the person who found it learned to love Layton like so many have.

High into the Air Like Metallic Cocoons (and Layton poem), Jan 10 06

By Malcolm Lurie January 10

My parents were post War immigrants to Montreal (1951) and I was raised and schooled there till the age of 12 in what was then the other Jewish ghetto, (not the traditional one) , that of the Snowden district.

The uniqueness of Jewish life in Montreal was not only a consequence of the rich matrix of culture and activism and commerce created by its sons and daughters but also the result of a comingling of cultures, especially with the Anglo-Celtic and French Canadian mainstreams. Jewish immigrants of the 20th century arrived in Montreal to find a city filled with French Canadian joie de vivre combined with a deep stirring Catholic religiosity and spirituality, though sometimes from that same place came occasionally a cold stare at them of hatred and even street violence.

Back in Eastern Europe, the Russian Czar wanted two things of their Jews: to starve and to vanish, but in that Quebec port city, the Scottish and English Montrealers set them up in their classrooms and gave them a basic education and, above all, a love of the English language, and for that we are deeply indebted. They too may have put up barriers to us but we learned to climb over them. Meanwhile our fathers and grandfathers earned a living from selling goods from door to door.

My father, like Irving Layton, plied the trade of peddler in the working class areas of Montreal where sometimes a child could be heard yelling..." Hey mom , your Jew is coming!!" The perilous metal staircases of working class houses grew from the ground high into the air like metallic cocoons, but in Montreal's harsh winters they were more like icicles, and that is what they had to climb with their valises full of goods, day after day.

I would like, as well, to dedicate this poem I dedicated to the memory of my father, Julien Mader, to the memory of Irving Layton.

MY FATHER

And as I danced and sang beneath
The willow tree, kicking up the dust
With small child's feet in the
Hot noon-time of chocolate
And candied playlands
And wide-eyed school yards
My father broke his back beneath
The same scorching sun
Climbing up and down impossible staircases
Selling his weary
Goods from door to door.

And on the day of rest
I rode his tired back
A midget cowboy
Rejoicing in the desert dreamland
Of our ordinary abode.

I was the spark that cleansed your blood
The wash of wine that flushed the dross.
"My son, my son, do not leave me."
But I did.
I left you like all good sons
One day must.

And at the moment of your last child
Abandoning your hard-earned house
It must have torn into you
Like no other memory
Like some other kind of cruelty.

And as I sang and danced
Beneath the willow tree
He broke his back beneath
The same scorching sun
Climbing impossible staircases
Clutching an impossible star.

Nota: that horrible Stephen Marche literary obit. is now the only CBC.ca feature left on Irving Layton.

By Malcolm Lurie January 10