Irving Layton at 100: "Almost now I know who I am"

Concordia Libraries has digitized many recordings of the late Canadian poet Irving Layton. To celebrate the Centenary of Layton´s birth, we are happy to make a selection of his poems available. The following poems were recorded in February 1972, when Irving Layton gave a reading to a group of English teachers from secondary schools in Ottawa.

"The Birth of Tragedy" appeared in the collection In the Midst of My Fever in 1954. "Song for Naomi," "The Improved Binoculars," and "The Cold Green Element" appeared in The Cold Green Element in 1955. "Keine Lazarovitch" was included in The Swinging Flesh in 1961. "There Were No Signs" appeared in Balls for a One-Armed Juggler in 1963.

All poems featured on this page can be found in A Wild Peculiar Joy: The Selected Poems by Irving Layton, available from McClelland & Stewart. Concordia University Libraries are grateful to Max Layton for his permission to make extracts of this recording available for the Irving Layton Centenary.

To find an event celebrating Irving Layton, see the Irving Layton Centenary Hub on Facebook or go to
To explore the Irving Layton Collection at Concordia University Libraries, contact Special Collections at 514-848-2424, ext. 7774.