Irving Layton


Yes, there are better clips available, but who could resist this?  Leonard Cohen sings the Chiquita Banana song to Irving Layton.  Cohen said of Layton: “I taught him how to dress, he taught me how to live forever.”

Today is Irving Layton‘s birthday (1912-2006).

From “Poetry,” written in 1958:

It is difficult to do justice in a sentence or two to the variety and exuberance of Layton’s best work. The sensuality which seems its most obvious characteristic is rather an intense awareness of physical and bodily reality, which imposes its own laws on the intellect even when the intellect is trying to snub and despise it. The mind continually feels betrayed by the body, and its resulting embarrassments are a rich source of ribald humour. Yet the body in the long run is closer to spirit than the intellect is: it suffers where the intellect is cruel; it experiences where the intellect excludes. Hence a poetry which at first glance looks anti-intellectual is actually trying to express a gentler and subtler kind of cultivation than the intellect alone can reach.  Thus Layton is, in the expanded sense in which the term is used in the article, an academic rather than a Romantic poet, though one of his own highly individual kind.  (CW 12, 290-1)

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