Irving Layton



“Irving's Women: A Feminist Critique of The Love Poems of Irving Layton”
Joanne Lewis Studies in Canadian Literature 13,2 (1988)

Brief to Irving

I open your latest book
of eighty-two poems
another blitzkreig
and see you're taking up the cudgels
against another wife:
I wonder how she's taking it?
I see. She's leaking headaches
trembling in corners
and she's only had two years of you.
The reason, perhaps, appears on page 75
you squirm over your neighbour's crotch. . .
After twenty years I am still angry
I will say it for us all
Faye, Aviva, Harriet, myself:
We're not, Irving, merely strumpets
for your pleasure;
we're almost numerous enough
your wives
to unionize, vote you out
if you think that makes poetry
you've got another wife coming...

Boschka Layton, unpublished poem

For more than four decades, Irving Layton's poetry has dazzled, puzzled, astonished, and outraged its readers. Not content to let his work speak for itself, Layton has chosen the role of public poet, taking and making every opportunity to voice his opinion and hurl his invective at the universe in general, and at Canadian society in particular. Many of Layton's more than forty published volumes of poetry are prefaced by scathing attacks on those who would shackle a poet's imagination; over the years he has used the media and the lecture hall to passionately and publicly decry social injustice. But perhaps his loudest and most sustained protest has been against a restrictive puritanism that inhibits the celebration and expression of human sexuality.

“Irving Layton, Pseudo-Prophet — A Reappraisal”
Peter Hunt Canadian Poetry vol. 1