Layton, Irving

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Layton, Irving

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March 12, 1912-January 4, 2006


Irving Layton, (born Israel Pincu Lazarovitch), a Canadian poet, was born in Tirgu Neamt, Romania on March 12, 1912. He died in Montreal, Quebec on January 4, 2006 at the age of 93. Layton and his family immigrated to Montreal in 1913. Layton attended Alexandra Elementary School and graduated from Baron Byng High School. The poet obtained a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in 1939 from MacDonald College (presently MacDonald Campus part of McGill University) and in 1946 he enrolled at McGill University where he received a Master’s in Political Science. Layton joined the Canadian army during the Second World War and received an honourable discharge in 1943.

The poet began to teach English, History, and Political Science at the Herzilah High School in 1949 and continued to teach throughout his life. He taught modern English and American poetry at Sir George Williams University (now Concordia University), from 1949-1965, was a tenured professor at York University from 1970-1978, was poet in residence at the University of Guelph (1969-1970), and writer in residence at the University of Toronto (1981). In 1988, Layton became the writer in residence at Concordia University.

During the 1940s and 1950s Layton contributed to and edited many prominent Canadian poetry magazines including First Statement, along with his friend and poet Louis Dudek, and the Northern Review, which included editors such as A.M. Klein, Patrick Anderson, F.R. Scott and P.K. Page.

Throughout his career, Layton would publish many collections of poetry and short essays including: The Gucci Bag, The Improved Binoculars, Final Reckoning, Red Carpet for the Sun, The Covenant, The Cold Green Element, For My Neighbours in Hell, For My Brother Jesus, Balls for a One-Armed Juggler, Collected Poems, The Whole Bloody Bird, A Wild Peculiar Joy,
The Tightrope Dancer, The Laughing Rooster, and The Shattered Plinths. In 1985, the author published his memoir Waiting for the Messiah.

Layton was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in Literature in 1982 and 1983.


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Created 2012




Contemporary Authors Online. “Irving Layton." Contemporary Authors Online, 2007. p=LitRC&sw=w (accessed 6 January 2012).

Joy Bennett. A Catalogue of the Letters, Tapes and Photographs in the Irving Layton Collection. Calgary, University of Calgary Press, 1993.

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