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« Labour vote "heavily bruised" | Main | Scotland leads, England follows »

Eric Layman 1943-2008

ericlayman-100.jpgI am sorry to report the death of Eric Layman. I don't suppose any of you will have heard of Eric. Born in New Westminster, British Columbia, in 1943, he was a poet and writer who lived in Toronto from 1957. In 2001 he wrote "The Smoke Police" which was subsequently set to music by fellow Canadian Matt Finlayson whose band, The Intended, featured it on their excellent CD Route 101.

Three years ago, when I was in Toronto, I met up with Matt who proved extraordinarily generous with his time. Not only did he give me a guided tour of the city, he also took me to see Niagara Falls and invited me for dinner at his home where I met his family and, I'm delighted to say, Eric Layman. We had a lovely evening and I enjoyed their company enormously.

Eric died last month, aged 64, and a memorial service took place on Sunday. Matt, who was MC, was one of many friends and colleagues who paid their respects and his spirits were raised, he tells me, when he read THIS obituary in the (national) Globe and Mail.

To this Matt adds, "My good friend Eric Layman, poet and writer, was one of Canada’s best kept secrets. He was as good as any poet that has come out of Canada. I saw Eric at many poetry readings over the last 25 years and he never failed to impress. He has left a very substantial body of high quality work. I will continue to champion his work. There will be a number of poems which I will use in a recording session in June for a new album."

To view some of Eric's poems click HERE. The lyrics to "The Smoke Police" - with comments by Eric himself - can be found HERE.

You can purchase and download "The Smoke Police" HERE. Warmly recommended.

Reader Comments (4)

Sad to see a life cut short. Even more sad to see a life needlessly lost to emphysema through a man exercising his right to smoke.

May 31, 2008 at 15:37 | Unregistered CommenterJohnM

JohnM, I can understand your position. In a free society, however, it is the right of an adult to calculate risk and to exercise his choice to take that risk and suffer the consequences. I believe that it is more desirable that a society enables free choice than that the State intervenes in the interests of the individual and, in so doing, erodes that freedom.

June 1, 2008 at 13:27 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

In regard to John M’s comment. Why is it more sad “to see a life needlessly lost to emphysema through a man exercising his right to smoke.”?
Eric enjoyed smoking just like some people enjoy other high risk activities such as auto racing, downhill skiing or playing contact sports. He was well aware of the risks.

I take great exception to John M’s comments because, with respect, I don’t believe he is really all that sad to see “a life cut short”. It sound s to me like he is evangelizing for the Nanny State.

My good friend Eric should have the last word here.

The undercover smoke police,
and others of their flavor:
"for your own good" is what they say,
as inchwise they enslave you.

So vote the nanny state from power,
and put it out to pasture;
a grown-up doesn't want or need
a meddler for a master.

June 2, 2008 at 4:01 | Unregistered CommenterMatt Finlayson

Last year I had the opportunity of hearing Eric recite a poem at the Yorkville Library's celebration of the 60's. What a wonderful experience. I hadn't seen him or heard his poetry since long ago in the 60's.

September 16, 2008 at 14:23 | Unregistered CommenterMary M

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