Monday, March 12, 2012

Happy birthday, Mr. Poetry

Okay, so I’m taking liberties with Marilyn Monroe’s line – the one she used in that famously breathy tune she sang to then-President John Kennedy.

Today is the day that one of Canada’s candidates for ‘Mr. Poetry’ – Irving Layton – would have turned 100 years old.

Like so much of history, this depends somewhat on whose version you trust. Some claim he was actually born on the 5th and not the 12th. But whenever it was, when it comes to observing a centenary, I hope we’re allowed a few days’ grace.

This past weekend saw a number of events taking place across the country,

including one in Vancouver. Sponsored by the Dead Poets Reading Society, the reading showcased a range of Layton’s work, even classic correspondences with Robert Creeley and Al Purdy.

If you click here, you'll see the celebratory video posted by Layton's son, Max.

But going back to today's subject header: why would Marilyn Monroe come up in the context of Irving Layton?

Because one of his poems, an elegy for the film star, is one which I think serves as almost a time capsule for the early ’60s, a time when the world was more innocent than now. You might find it worth tracking down (one of the collections it's included in is Balls for a One-Armed Juggler).

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