Nominated twice for the Nobel Prize, Irving Layton is Canada's most dynamic, controversial, and outspoken poet. His prolific verse reveals his Judaic heritage, his love of women, and his fury and fever for life. This volume of 150 poems, which takes its title from the opening poem, is a new selection from Layton's work between 1928 and 1990, chosen to give a complete picture of the poet his vision, tone, celebration, attack, defence, disharmony, and "the external dualisms of imaginative desire and bitter reality." These are the poems for which Layton will be remembered.
Brian Trehearne provides an lyric introduction that explores the "voices" and "vision" of Layton's poetry, particularly the present collection. "Fornalutx,' the poem from which this volume takes its title, sets out the clash of joyful expectation and frustrated desire that lies at the heart of this late retrospective collection of the poems of Irving Layton ... The poem's bitter descent, with its rich epic overtones, may be taken as an emblem of Irving Layton's poetic vision and nature. In it is contained his instinc-tual readiness for joy and its persistent confounding by the sour earth on which he finds himself. Here is his willingness to damn; here too are his favoured symbols, twisted by a vile human nature into sources of suffering and confusion. Here is that striking casualness of tone that disguises the meticulous rhythmic expression of his poems. And here, too, is the self-irony that has generated his most successful and compelling poetry." from the Introduction