January 5, 2006

MONTREAL -- Irving Layton, a prolific writer and one of Canada's top poets, has died. He was 93.

Diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 1994, Layton died Wednesday in a long-term care facility surrounded by caregivers and longtime friend Musia Schwartz, said Lisa Blobstein, spokeswoman for the Maimonides Geriatric Centre.

Layton published more than 40 books of poetry and prose over more than five decades, making his way to the top of Canada's literary hierarchy.

Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotter said Layton "taught me how to think." Layton taught for many years. He held university posts as poet-or writer-in-residence and was nominated for a Nobel Prize in literature in 1982. Layton was named to the Order of Canada in 1976 -- Canada's highest honor.

Born Israel Lazarovitch in Romania on March 12, 1912. His family migrated to Canada a year later, settling in a tough, multiethnic neighborhood in Montreal. Its mean streets later became the backdrop for many of his graphic, often bawdy poems.

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