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Irving Layton Biography

(1912– ), Collected Poems, Selected Poems, Engagements: The Prose of Irving Layton, Uncollected Poems, 1936–1959

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Mary Lavin Biography to Light Shining in Buckinghamshire

Canadian poet, born in Neamtz, Romania, and taken to Montreal at the age of one; originally named Lazarovitch, he has used the name Layton since 1937. After war service he studied economics at McGill University, Montreal; he was Professor of English at York University, Toronto, from 1969 to 1978. Layton has published many volumes of verse in addition to critical, political, and general writings. Always deliberately outspoken on politics, sex, and other issues such as Canadian anti-American cultural tendencies, Layton is as revered by some as he is disliked by others. Collected Poems (1971) contained 385 titles exploring a broad range of themes; Selected Poems appeared in 1974. Engagements: The Prose of Irving Layton (1972) brought together his views on life and love, while Uncollected Poems, 1936–1959 (1976) further demonstrated his tireless energy in grappling with issues both personal and international. A similarly wide-ranging selection of worldly comment was gathered in Taking Sides: The Collected Social and Political Writings (1977), while Waiting for the Messiah (1985) told his life up to 1946. A Wild Peculiar Joy: Selected Poems 1945–82 appeared in 1982, and Final Reckoning: Poems 1982–1986 in 1987. Layton was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1976. Irving Layton: A Portrait by Elspeth Cameron appeared in 1985.

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