Other literary forms

(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Irving Layton is known primarily for his poetry. He edited several collections of Canadian poems and wrote social and political essays and an autobiography, Waiting for the Messiah: A Memoir (1985).


(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Irving Layton received numerous awards and honors from the Canadian government and from universities in Canada. He won Canada’s Governor-General’s Award in 1959 for his collection A Red Carpet for the Sun. In 1976, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in recognition for his literary achievements. Layton received honorary doctorates from three Canadian universities: Bishop’s University in 1970, Concordia University in 1976, and York University in 1979.

Layton was honored internationally for his poetry. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature for two consecutive years (1982 and 1983) by admirers in Italy and Korea. In 1993, he was inducted into Italy’s Institute Pertini and was the first non-Italian to win the Petrarch Award, an Italian award that recognizes poetic talent. Layton’s works have been translated into numerous languages.


(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Francis, Wynne. “Irving Layton.” In Canadian Writers and Their Works, edited by Robert Lecker, Jack David, and Ellen Quigley. Poetry Series. Vol. 5. Toronto: ECW Press, 1985. Includes a brief biography and an analysis of how Layton fits into the Canadian tradition and milieu. The author uses a detailed analysis of Layton’s poetry to chronicle his struggle for acceptance.

Jason, Philip K., ed. Masterplots II: Poetry Series. Rev. ed. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 2002. Contains an in-depth analysis of the poem “Golfers.”

Mandel, Eli. The Poetry of Irving Layton. Rev. ed. Toronto: Coles, 1981. A revised edition of the author’s initial study published in 1969. Thoroughly analyzes the major thematic concerns of Layton’s poetry and examines the reactions of the English-Canadian establishment to his work.

Mansbridge, Francis. Irving Layton: God’s Recording Angel. Toronto: ECW Press, 1995. A biography of Layton based on extensive interviews with his friends, family, and colleagues. The author, who edited an edition of Layton’s letters, underscores how his poetry and life overlapped.

Mayne, Seymour, ed. Irving Layton: The Poet and His Critics. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1978. A collection of criticism on the major works of Layton’s literary career that were published through 1975. Included are the opinions of critics and of poets from three generations. The reviews of American critics and poets are also represented.

Smith, Jennifer, and Elizabeth Thomason, eds. Poetry for Students. Vol. 12. Detroit: Gale Group, 2001. Contains analysis and criticism of Layton’s “A Tall Man Executes a Jig.”