Thursday, January 05, 2006

Irving Layton 1912-2006





DIVINE IMAGE

Swiftly darting in the setting light,
The doomed sparrow feels the falcon's wings.
How beautiful are they both in flight.





Larry sez a case could be made that Irving Layton was the first one to introduce him to real poetry. Others there were...Yevtushenko, later Kerouac...but Layton was the one. When Larry was in his midteens working at the Lunchbucket Library, Layton fell into his hands and impressed him with his wit, his bite, his Canadianity!

The CBC obituary sez he died suffering from Alzheimer's in a geriatric home. What a shame. It also sez he was a lesser poet than he claimed to be. And much of his personal life was a shambles. Never mind. At least he can say that he played a part in putting at least one person into the Yoni School for Wayward Poets.
Larry
(The poem is Irving's.)

38 comments:

BB said...

Whom the gods do not intend to destroy
They first make mad with poetry.

Marianne said...

Oh my, should we write the obituary of the CBC?

BB, a bit of trivia for your novel about Deep River. This from the Irving Layton website - "While serving as a Brigade Commander in Petawawa, Layton met Betty Sutherland, an accomplished painter (and later poet), while on leave."

Another bit of trivia, BB - Layton's daughter, Samantha, was born in 1981...

I wonder what the definition is of a life in shambles. He had many wives. Maybe that simply means he had many loves. I don't know.

But sheesh, Layton was born in 1912 and had a daughter in 1981? That's some powerful poetry!

netty said...

"Telling an academic that you've just written a poem is like telling an undertaker you've just given birth."
Irving Layton, poet 1977
------------

Beginning lines of the poem
"Departed" :
I walk the streets
of Amsterdam
looking
everywhere for the faces
Rembrandt painted

That was the connection. In June 1981, at the Great Canadian Poetry Weekend in Collingwood, where I bought one of Irving Layton's books of poetry "Europe and Other Bad News", where he had read from, and went to him to sign it, he invited me to sit down with him on his table. When he learned that I was born and had grown up in Amsterdam, he told me about some of his experiences in Amsterdam and brought me his book "The Pole-Vaulter", which starts with the above poetry lines.There are also poems for and about Anne Frank in it. We, Irving and I, had an animated conversation. He held my hand under the table.

Marianne said...

Netty, you wild thing!

Larry Keiler said...

Does that make Netty an historical artefact?

wild thing said...

mmm, let me see. An artifact is a man-made pre-historical tool or object. I guess I am man-made. But Larry Keiler, I have to correct your grammar. Since the object is already historical, no, even pre-historical, historical artifact is a double whammy. I know there is an official literary term for that, but hey, my pre-historic brain can't come up with it. :)

Irving Layton and Leonard Cohen are friends. Both are women chasers or chased by women, however that works. I never met Leonard Cohen live, nor held hands with him. He wasn't at that wild, energy laden, poetry weekend in Collingwood. Maybe he was "lighting a thin, green candle to make" someone jealous of him. Maybe today he isn't that wild anymore since he is now a Buddhist? Or can Buddhist be wild things too?

Marianne said...

Oh, Leonard Cohen is certainly a wild thing, Buddhist or not. I'd say portions of his personal history are akin to that of his good friend Irving, or should I say, Israel. Leonard is now recording (with his girlfriend) a new CD, since his retirement fund has been found to be "wanting", and he needs to work in his "old age". The CD will come out early this year - and I will be one of the first to buy it. BB bought me a CD by KD Lang for Christmas, "hymns of the 49th parallel". I play the "Leonard" songs she sings over and over - "Hallejuah" is gorgeous. God, it speaks to me.

Netty, an artefact? She is an art-efact, for sure. Her art (and h-art)soars.

And hell, Larry, aren't you just a bit jealous she held hands under the table with you-know-who!!!!

Larry Keiler said...

1. Larry likes kd lang, saw her live...once...and loved it, but doesn't think much of the tunes he's heard off that 49th Parallel. However, just the other day he heard the live version of Hallelujah that kd did at 2005 Junos, and it was fabulous. Unfortunately, the name of the album on which it might be found escapes his memory.

2. Can you find Leonard in this poem written by Layton?

On Being Bitten by a Dog

A doctor for mere lucre
performed an unnecessary operation
making my nose nearly
as crooked as himself

Another for a similar reason
almost blinded me

A poet famous
for his lyrics of love
and renunciation
toils at the seduction of my wife

And the humans who would like to kill me
are legion

Only once have I been bitten by a dog.

3. Larry has renounced jealousy. It's much too late for jealousy. Or envy. Larry thinks it's quite a feat to even know someone who was fondled by Irving Layton. And also that Layton would probably have been much better off if he had deepened that animated conversation.

wild thing said...

Ah, there is meaning to "Ships that pass in the night." Come to think of it Gary Kreller, (Which I did this morning luxurating in my leisurly, hot bath)if it hadn't been for Irving Layton, you and I may never have met and become the friends we are. He inspired you to become the poet you are. If I hadn't, poetry obsessed, had my eye fall on you at that branch meeting of the C.A.A.long ago, and asked you to submit poems for the Waterwell Newsletter, there may never have been the poetry sessions we enjoyed in my home, (even Leslie attended once), and the performances of the poems written by you, me and Hans, put to music by you. There is a intricate way the universe put seemingly random occurances into a tight package.

Wild thing was wildly in love with Hans at the time Irving held her hand. Not Irving, not John Newlove, who asked her to marry him, (he was super depressed and full of alcohol) not the men who sat beside her, playing with her hair, could make her for one second forget about Hans at that wild weekend, nay, made her more lonely for him.

That Leonard, even tried to mess with Layton's wife? Well, what are friends for?

I am dying to get that CD now by K.D Long and will look for Leonard's new release, Marianne.

bb said...

I don't have a mind for poetry. It is a math forumla that is beyound my ability.

That said when I read it there are individual lines that evoke wonderful images in me. My difficulty is I can't see the forest. I can only see individual trees.

I don't grasp a whole poem. My bent is for story.

M and Netty though can take poetry into their prose and make a story of it. That is what I lack in my story telling - the poetry...

netty said...

We find a story in just one tree, or a single bud. We mention the bud, in such a fashion that it makes the forest visable. You Bob can take in a whole situation and create a human drama, playing it out in your writing. Prose writing, yes, but within hides some hard, poetical truth. Poetry can be lyrical, sing itself into being. Some written word in the form of a poem, does definitely not sing. There are passages in your stories that strumm strings that reach the heart. In an off beat way, that is poetry too. Thank goodness for our different ways and perspectives. Math, art, and poetry have a common denominator. That's what makes us celebrate our differences and still draws us tightly together.

Gary, is it co-incidence that I talked today of those old poetry sessions and that a notebook I picked up at random while cleaning up, held some sentences and poems of that time?

Remember?Darkness is visual silence. Bill. Mounts of vanilla icecream floataccross the sky. Bill's 4 year old daughter. All alone in a world full of people. Bill. An atom isn't a thing, it's a a possible lily, and we are all made up of atoms. Gary. Raindrop, dewdrop, teardrop. Netty. Walk a strait line and the world will come around. Netty.A single word spoken. Bill.(Later Vance)

We used those for writing instant poems.

darkness
visional silence
mounds of vanilla icecream
mingle in the sky

all alone in
a world full of people
i devour a warm
bumbleberry pie

light and dark
yummy fixings
atoms of possibility
i like to try

either raindrops or
teardrops fall
from my face
i don't know which or why

walk a strait line and
the world will come around like
a humongous
stir fry...

LOL, that was my try. We had fun, serious conversations, and lots of food for the tummy and the soul.

Please readers excuse my struggle with spacing, overwrite is rampant right now. Trying to fix it makes it worse. (:

marianne said...

a silly haiku to amuse wild thing:

That peanut brittle
you brought to the writers' group
was damn good!

Gary said...

Oh Netty, you are forcing Gary to come out of hiding. Had a big argument with Larry. Now's he's nursing bloodied ego.

But yes, Gary remembers those poetry afternoons. I remember the time Leslie showed up. She seemed, at the time, somehow dissatisfied, or wondering why she was there, or something. Never expected to see her again, but then! Somehow, (who drew her?) she began showing up at the CAA meetings. It would be interesting to ask her about it now.

Also yes, that was one of the things Larry had in mind when he wrote about Layton. Those afternoons.

Things change, eh? I remember the first afternoon I showed up at Arlene's for the Friday editing circle...with the cell phone because I was just beginning that courier thing. From then on, Friday afternoons, or any afternoons for that matter, became problematic.

Gary has two poems he knows of from those lines you quoted. Doesn't know where notebooks might be. I'm not going to put them in this comment. Too long. You'll have to go to Mental Blog, where Larry will graciously post them, or Gary will once again smack him upside his wayward head. Just click on the link on the DoveTale blog, if you haven't already bookmarked Mental Blog (and shame on you if you haven't.)

Marianne said...

Who's Gary?

netty said...

I will mend my ways and dive into mental blog.

Larry, Marianne, is that guy that came to the poetry meetings. I believe that at that long ago time he hadn't found his alter ego yet.I send my apologies to Larry for scarring his confidence.

I do believe Leslie reads the blogs. She answered some and posted one, right? So, maybe Leslie, when you feel better, you can answer Larry's (former Gary's) question?

Thank you Marianne for the brittle haiku. That wasn't peanuts. (:

You know Larry, when you posted Layton, I missed the fact that he had died. Hadn't heard or seen any news for days. Then when I finished commenting on your post, I went out with Simon and on impulse stopped in on a dogwalking friend. She invited me in and told me she had just come back from the library and showed me a book her husband had taken out. It was Layton's "Finding the Messiah". I almost flipped. Then her husband came home, who I had never met, and he talked about his interest in poetry and told me Layton had died, just the other day. Then when I re-read your post I caught the alzheimers bit.

Leslie said...

I remember going to a meeting at Netty's house once, before I joined the CAA. It must be the one Netty and Gary/Larry have been mentioning here. I remember Hans was there and I felt out of place because I'm not a poet and everyone else was. I felt like an imposter in a room full of real people. I am not sure if it was winter or summer. If it was winter, I was also COLD ... not being used to Netty's typical room temperature which is barely above freezing... but something must have hooked me because then I went to the CAA meetings and then... the rest is history (in the making, hopefully, rather than just history).

For those of you who watch 24, I've gone dark for the past couple of weeks. But now I am back... blog on, mateys...

Larry Keiler said...

Hmmm....Leslie not a pote. In much the same way that Marianne was not a pote. But Larry remembers that He-who-is-supposed-to-remain-nameless published some of Leslie's pomes in the WaterWell. You wouldn't be questioning HWISTRN's judgment, now, would you? After all, he also published Larry's pome too.

Marianne said...

So if Netty is now "Wild Thing", does that now make you "Hot Thing", Les?????? (considering your desire for warm spaces....).

Marianne said...

Re: 24 -

Hey, might be worth a posting Monday morning since the new season starts Sunday night. Specifically, since this is a writers' blog, how far can writers push the envelope, and still get away with it? That 24 team sure pushes the envelope, and I believe them every time! I mean, talk about character development, I LIKE Jack, and look at the despicable things he does. Okay, this is getting too far away from the Irving Layton postings... another time, then...

Marianne said...

Ok, to go way back in this conversation, Larry & WT - I came across this definition of artefact yesterday while doing my day job...

"Evidence of work is sometimes referred to as artefacts. An artefact is something that gives tangible evidence that you’ve gained knowledge or mastered skills. For example, a lesson plan or learning activity that you created would be tangible evidence of certain skills and knowledge."

Larry Keiler said...

Oh, ok, so the pome is wild thing's artefact, and wild thing is nature's artefact...

wild thing said...

Hey my dictionary, Webster, spells it artifact. OK, both are correct. Webster also gives his blessing on artefact.

Mmmmmm...pre historical, historical, man made project, biblically spoken, formed out of dust -clay , working with clay, potery, combination of pottery and poetree, nature, trees, artifact of nature...oh God, wild thing is getting confused.

hot thing, help!!!

wild thing said...

hot thing, I did like your poems too. It's somewhere in the hidden craters of my brain what some of them were about. The words to indicate them won't come to my poor, prehistoric brain. Maybe when I lie in my bath one morning, or some time between sleeping and waking, they will pop in.

Leslie said...

interesting comments on pomes of mine, most of which I have also forgotten! Now about this hot thing thing... do you think it is acceptable to call a 60 year old "hot thing"? I mean, come on... then again, I do have issues with temperatures. I've got it - Hot Flash. That might be more to the point. Of course one never gets hot flashes when one is cold, such as when one is at Netty's in winter... no no no, nary a hot flash when you need one.
So, you decide. Hot Thing? Hot Flash? How about just Flash? gee, I dunno...

Larry Keiler said...

Larry kinda likes Hot Flash...it has a journalistic aura about it.

If Larry asks He-who-shall-remain-nameless very nicely, he might -- possibly -- dig up from archives those Hot pomes. Not sure if the archives go back that far.

Marianne said...

I kinda like "Hottie" myself - you know, in the language of the love-struck young - she/he's a real "hottie."

Hey, that could apply to your writing too, Les, you're a writing "hottie."

In terms of archives, you guys can find a pome, poem or whatever piece of writing that you took to a poetry circle ten years or so back? Wow! I can't even find the latest version of something I've written from the past few months... I tinker with it, then lose it among the poetry /story fragments.

wild thing said...

hot(ty?) thing -flash -spot (hot spot?)I promise, the next time you visit wild thing she'll turn up the heat and make it nice and toasty. Watch for her red cheeks. See she gets hot and she's 70.

Anonymous said...

Seems my moniker HAS to have something HOT about it. Ok, I accept my fate (you crazy bloggers, you). So we will forget Flash by itself. Hot Flash, well, that's kinda annoying and pretty cliche for someone my age. Hottie is way over the top for an old broad, which really makes it the best choice. So Hottie it is. Hey, I finally got to be a hottie at age 60. Wow! Wish I could tell my younger self about this! She'd be envious, since she was positive she was far from hot in any way, shape or form as a young woman. But that's another story for another day. Freefall, maybe.

Wild Thing you are too kind about turning up the heat... nice to say, not necessary. I can always wear my ski undies... not being a Norse woman, I have these needs for creature comfort that you have evolved beyond... (I know you are Dutch, just liked the sound of Norse woman).

Hottie said...

That last message was supposed to say Hottie but either the Blog didn't approve or there was a Freudian slip of my keyboard...

ok I'm out of the closet now, really Hottie. Let's see if the blog accepts that this time.

Wild Thing said...

All the "said" headings are lower case. Did you notice? I do it that way 'cause I like it that way, but not likely everyone is same as Norse Woman. Must be a rule to blogging. Me try to do my name upper case. See if it works.

wild thing said...

So, sorry hottie, you are doomed to lower case. It's way more modern, you know.

wild thing said...

It is getting harder to get to the bottom of this conversation. If we keep on going we may span the world.

Xena said...

For the remainder of this blog posting (which is now almost at the point of spanning the world), I declare myself to be Xena, as in Xena, Princess Warrior. Okay, laugh if you must guys, but I am willing to change the Princess (I don't feel at all like a Princess) to something like Writer-Warrior, or WW for short. That would make me X-WW, but I think I like the Xena, so Xena-WW. Or I could also go with Xena, Kayak-Warrior, which would be Xena-KW, which could also stand for my geographical location, the ground upon which I stand, so poetically serves layered purposes.

Okay, what's with the Warrior kick? It's a desire to be strong again. A shaping for myself of how I want to feel, a shaping of will and body. I've been ill twice in the last six weeks or so, and now I've pulled a shoulder/back muscle so badly I can't move my (right-writing) arm higher than elbow level. It has totally seized. I am pecking away at the keyboard. I am on muscle relaxants - hey, maybe drugs are the source of this Xena thing. Hallucinations. But hell, Xena is the image I gotta to hang onto - I wanna leap through forests, paddle down rivers, cut a swath with my Xena sword...

wild thing said...

I like xena.

What about xena sword bearer?

You would have to use long form, cause s.b. is too much like son of a bitch, LOL A far throw from princess.

WW makes me think of world war. KW,mmm prozaic. I mean Xena has a phantasy or science fiction flavour...

Xena said...

Then just Xena it is...

BTW, WT, a bit of trivia. Xena: Warrior Princess was a TV show that ran from 1995 - 2001.

Lucy Lawless was the original Xena and believe me, I do not resemble her (although when I was a young woman I had long hair). However, she makes a good fantasy symbol for regaining strength, and for courage and willpower.

A similar cartoon character was She-Ra, Princess of Power, although I much preferred Cheetara, of Thundercats fame.

Xena said...

Oh, btw, this Xena thing lasts only as long as it takes for my shoulder to heal... hell, that could be quite a while... then I'm on to a new persona...

In the meantime, Xena throws out the gauntlet to the Dove Tale clan (immediate and extended family) who haven't yet done a blog post to get us going on a new conversation. If you'd like, send the weak lady with the sore shoulder your rant or wise words. She'll do the password thing and post it for you in your name.

Be brave! Be true! Be Amazon!

Larry Keiler said...

Larry sez:

No way I'm cutting off my left breast just to post on a blog.

Larry Keiler said...

Oops.

Right.

Righto.