Canada Celebrates the Centenary of Poet Irving Layton's Birth

TORONTO, Feb. 14, 2012 /CNW/ - Irving Layton, one of Canada's greatest poets, and certainly its most controversial, would have turned 100 on March 12, 2012, and the country is celebrating.

From Goose Bay in Labrador, to Whitehorse in the Yukon, to Victoria on Vancouver Island, cities across this country will be holding celebrations to honour the centenary of Layton's birth.

"The response has been overwhelming," says Layton's eldest son, Max, who is co-ordinating the huge nation-wide event, and is a poet and songwriter himself. "I never dreamed there would be such an outpouring of affection for my dad. It's unprecedented. Never before has Canada united from coast to coast to celebrate the birth of a poet!"

Celebrations are scheduled for the days surrounding Layton's birth in every major city in all ten provinces.

The list of cities includes: Goose Bay, Corner Brook, St. Johns, Charlottetown, Sydney, Halifax, Fredericton, St. John, Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston, Toronto (at Harbourfront), Niagara-on-the-Lake, Windsor, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Regina, Calgary, Edmonton, Whitehorse, Vancouver, Bowen Island, and Victoria.

Participants will be such luminaries as Margaret Atwood, Barry Callaghan, Scott Griffin, Dennis Lee, Jacob MacArthur Mooney, Anna Porter, Moses Znaimer, and Canada's Poet Laureate, Fred Wah, who will be reading their favourite Layton poems and sharing their memories.

Twice nominated for the Nobel Prize, and the author of more than forty books of poetry, Irving Layton was born in Romania and was brought to this country at the age of one by parents who did not speak a word of English. Incredibly, Layton rose from the slums of Montreal to influence generations of younger poets such as Al Purdy and Leonard Cohen.

As Cohen famously said: "I taught him how to dress, and he taught me how to live forever!"

"Layton was a force of nature and creativity, with a big heart, and a warm sense of humour. He could also be very exacting," says McClelland & Stewart Publisher Ellen Seligman, who worked with Layton in the 80s, and edited Waiting for the Messiah, Layton's revealing and personal memoir.

The culmination of Layton's extraordinary career is the publication A Wild, Peculiar Joy (McClelland & Stewart, 2004), the definitive selection of his poems, edited by Sam Solecki.

For a list of scheduled events and participants, please visit or go to the Irving Layton Centenary HUB page on Facebook. Thanks to Canadian booksellers for their ongoing support of poetry, and additional thanks to Indigo for their special support of the Irving Layton national centenary event.

SOURCE McClelland and Stewart

For further information:

Media contact: Ruta Liormonas, Publicity Manager at McClelland & Stewart, 647-788-3978,

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