A Wild Peculiar Joy

The Selected Poems

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
A Wild Peculiar Joy is Irving Layton’s poetic testament. Hailed as the great lyric poet, Irving Layton has come to be known as one of Canada’s most powerful, groundbreaking voices, an important and influential writer whose distinguished career spanned almost forty-five years. By turns passionate and grave, joyous and apocalyptic, his beautifully crafted poems are illuminated by a strong social and political conscience, and an intensely humanistic view of the world. This is poetry that is timeless and universal. Drawn from his entire body of work, and now reissued in this handsomely redesigned volume, this edition includes a new introduction by Sam Solecki, and selected short excerpts from Irving Layton’s writings on the craft of poetry. A Wild Peculiar Joy once again makes available to readers the poetry of Irving Layton and stands as the author’s definitive selected.

READ AN EXCERPT

THERE WERE NO SIGNS

By walking I found out
Where I was going.

By intensely hating, how to love.
By loving, whom and what to love.

By grieving, how to laugh from the belly.

Out of infirmity, I have built strength.
Out of untruth, truth.
From hypocrisy, I wove directness.
...
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READING GUIDE

1. Irving Layton has always made large claims for the importance of poetry. He would even agree with Wallace Stevens’s challenging comment that “After one has abandoned a belief in god, poetry is that essence which takes its place as life’s redemption.” What is your view of this ambitious...

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PRAISE FOR

“If you are wondering what happened to us all, you might consult the poems of Irving Layton.”
–Leonard Cohen

“When I first clapped eyes on the poems of Irving Layton I let out a yell of joy… for the way he greeted the world he was celebrating, head up, eyes propped wide.… He inhabits the medium [of poetry] and is at home in it, passionately.… With his vigor and abilities, who shall not say that Canada will not have produced one of the west’s most famous poets?”
–William Carlos Williams

“I applaud him for being a poet as close to genius as any alive.…”
–Al Purdy

“Layton has never stopped demonstrating one important truth: poetry is power.… When he hits his stride, one gets the feeling of living a larger life, of breathing purer air and making strong, important gestures.… He is one of the few contemporary poets powerful enough to fuse commonplaces with grand stances and ideas, and make us believe the alchemy.”
–John Bemrose, Globe and Mail

“A poetic mind of genuine dignity and power.…”
–Northrop Frye

“He rages like an old prophet, and like an old prophet he strikes fire out of rock and calls together in those sparks visions of past, present, and future that we may know ourselves anew, as if for the first time.”
–Eli Mandel