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Irving Layton

Irving Layton (born March 12, 1912) is a Canadian poet. He was born as Israel Pincu Lazarovitch in a small village in Romania to Jewish parents. His family emigrated to Montreal in 1913 and they settled in the vibrant Jewish section of that city. Layton vigorously pursued his education eventually receiving a degree in Agricultural sciences from MacDonald College in 1939. His true interest was poetry, however. Layton read Tennyson and Shelly from an early age and moved through the other great authors throuhgout his youth. He travelled throughout Canada doing odd jobs, and in 1942 joined the army and became an officer a CFB Petawawa.

Layton eventually became a teacher, first at a Montreal Jewish High School, and then as a political-science professor at Sir George Williams University. Layton had become a strong socialist while at university and became active in the CCF. Because of this activity he was blacklisted and banned from entering the United States for the next two decades.

Layton's activism and poetry had made him an internationally known celebrity by the 1950s and he a fixture on early Canadian television. He travelled widely abroad and became especially popular in South Korea and Italy and in 1981 these two nations nominated him for the Nobel Prize for Literature. He did not win, but was honoured by the nomination. Layton today lives in retirement in Montreal.


See also: List of Canadian writers, List of Canadian poets