Saturday, 10 March 2012

What Made Irving Layton so Unforgettable?

Kenneth Sherman captures it:
Layton’s teaching style was dramatic: a booming voice punctuated by insistent hand gestures. He had a restless intelligence and a wrestler’s physique, and he would stride about the classroom as if he were stalking an idea. In a writing class, Layton made you aware of poetry’s physicality — its pulses and cadences — and of the fact that poets write with their bodies. A typical Layton class included scholarly lecture, Talmudic-like question and answer, and bursts of guerrilla theatre. Once, addressing a lecture hall of bewildered undergraduates, Layton ran up and down the aisles, crying “You’re sheep! Wake up! Who chloroformed you?”

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