Waiting for the Messiah: a memoir

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McCelland and Stewart, 1985 - Biography & Autobiography - 264 pages

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About the author (1985)

Irving Layton was born in Romania in 1912; a year later he and his parents arrived in Montreal. Educated in the same city, he received his Bachelors of Scince in agriculture from Macdonald College and an M.A. in political economy from McGill University. Throughout his career Layton has been writer-in-residence at several Canadian universities. Easily the most controversial Canadian poet, he was professor of English at Toronto's York University, a post from which he retired in 1978. Layton's verse has been variously described as dazzling, vulgar, sexist, and hyperbolic, yet Layton has always redeemed himself by the integrity with which he approaches his craft. His poetry avoids sentimentality, often centering on decidedly unpoetic, mundane images. Layton is a self-proclaimed "public exhibitionist," and his frank, bawdy verse and antagonist persona have tended to alienate him from both intellectual circles and the general public. Layton has published 40 or so volumes of poetry, some with outrageous titles such as The Gucci Bag (1983), For My Brother Jesus (1976), and Droppings from Heaven (1979). Much of his work is in print, a testament to his continuing popularity, and supports his declaration that the "poet has a public function as a prophet.

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