Oct 23, 2013
From 1959-1964, McClelland and Stewart published a run of poetry books written by Irving Layton, designed by Frank Newfeld, edited by Claire Pratt, and often illustrated with photographs by Sam Tata. They turned out to be among Layton’s most famous and influential titles ( A Red Carpet for the Sun , The Swinging Flesh , Balls for a One-Armed Juggler , and The Laughing Rooster ).
Cameron Anstee, proprietor of Apt 9 Press and a PhD student in the English Department at the University of Ottawa recently delivered a paper at the 2013 Canadian Literature Symposium. It examined the relationship between Layton, Newfeld, and Jack McClelland and positioned it as central to the formation both of a visible canon of Canadian Literature in the 1950s and 1960s, and of Layton’s particular public image. The paper looked at Layton’s complicated relationship with the Canadian reading public and emerging Canadian literary establishments through a close reading of the book objects. It also considered how Layton was ‘branded’ , the role that Frank Newfeld played in this, and the poet's conflicted responses to Newfeld’s designs.
I met recently with Anstee to discuss this fascinating topic.