Sunday, March 4, 2012

Open Letter To York University Dean – Is This How Canada Honours A National Treasure?

IRVING LAYTON – Centenary Celebrations  EVENTS LISTINGS (alphabetical by Province)

I am writing to call to your attention the fact that Irving Layton, who taught for many years at York, and whom I was privileged to know
does not yet at this time have anything in York University to commemorate the fact of his teaching there, his poetry, and his position
in the world of Literature.
I find that the fact that such a thing was turned down when he died a disgrace; and even more so approaching the centenary of his birth on March 12.
This is a poet whose work and life affected thousands of students for the better; who had an influence on media and letters, songwriters,
critics and whom changed forever the way poetry was viewed.
Irving Layton began the process of public acknowledgement of poetry in Canada, and in the USA, through those he influenced as alive,
vital, and passionately relevant.
Prior to his work and readings, it was unheard of to believe a current generation could be as great in its work as past, dead centuries and thus
never as relevant.

Irving single-handedly changed and broke this barrier, as he prophetically said he would.

He was a light to which poets and writers and critics as diverse as William Carlos Willams to Allen Ginsberg and Michael Hamburger turned and remained looking upon as a source of inspiration.
Through Allen Ginsberg he influenced Odetta, a folk artist, who influenced Bob Dylan.
He taught, influenced and inspired Canadian poets for whom he was and is The Poet such as Al Purdy, Gwen MacEwen, Milton Acorn, John Newlove, and Leonard Cohen. His poems were taught in
schools in the 1960′s.
And throughout the ’60′s and later his influence was felt through newspapers, radio, and television.
Leonard Cohen,who dedicated his latest book to Irving, has called him "Canada’s greatest poet."

He was the first poet awarded the Governor General’s prize for Poetry.
He was twice nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
With such seminal influences, coupled with the above facts, it is nothing but amazing that through a passive lack nothing exists to commemorate, at the University where he taught for many years,
such a figure in Literature and the Arts.

Is this how Canada honours one of its most significant national treasures?

I, and many others, hope this is rectified sooner than later as such a process of neglect needs to be corrected and such a poet publicly acknowledged by some permanency.
Not to do so is to not recognize the significance of Poetry, Literature, and the Arts, an especially untenable position for a university.

I am looking forward to hearing from you that this will begin, and in what regards it is chosen to be done.
Thank you for your attention.

Dean J. Baker

©Dean J. Baker
NOTE: if you agree, and believe Irving Layton ought to be honoured for his position and accomplishments in Poetry, feel free to email: Dean, Faculty of Fine Arts, York University

IRVING LAYTON – Centenary Celebrations  EVENTS LISTINGS (alphabetical by Province)

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