Irving Layton passes on

I suppose the death of Canadian poet Irving Layton probably won’t have the impact now that it might have, say, twenty years ago. But nevertheless, this guy was Canadian poetry, and without him, there would have been no Leonard Cohen and probably many others who would end up giving literature their best shot.

But that said, the most telling part of this particular obit might be this:

[Brian] Trehearne [of McGill University] recalled a visit the poet made to his classroom in the

early ’90s, with students versed in feminist theory ready to give

Layton — a self-confessed worshipper of women — a grilling.

But after reading a poem about his mother, “he had them eating out of his hand.”

Magdalene Redekop, who teaches Canadian poetry at the University of Toronto, saluted Layton despite her beliefs.

I met Layton very briefly about three years ago during a visit to my now-late grandmother, who also spent her remaining days at Maimonides. My mom, my grandmother and I were taking the elevator down to the first floor and a portly man with the wildest mane of white hair I’d probably ever seen was helped into the elevator by a nurse. I didn’t really recognize him until after we’d all exited, but I never forgot Layton’s expression — a cross between a smirk and appreciation, like how he could be on an elevator surrounded by women.

Evidently his mind was pretty well gone, and that’s why he had to go live out the last years of his life along with the other Alzheimer patients on the 4th floor (my grandmother was the only lucid person on the floor) but some things never changed.