Liz Worth: How I wrote No Work Finished Here

Comprised entirely of unedited transcripts between Andy Warhol and a few Factory fixtures, the 1968 book a, A novel is notoriously difficult to read. But in its haunting, disjointed narrative, Toronto writer Liz Worth found her poetic mission: to write one poem per page of the 451-page novel, comprised solely of words found within that page.

In her own words, Liz talks about the light-bulb moment that grew into her latest collection of poems, No Work Finished Here.


It's funny for me to be sitting here talking about No Work Finished Here, because I never intended to for it to be a book in the first place. When I first starting reading a, A novel, I was fascinated but I found it really difficult to read. It was just raw transcripts of people talking, and there are a lot of different voices in the book that aren't even identified some of the time. But there were these tiny little pieces in there that were so beautiful and so striking. I started playing around with those words, and I felt like there were some phrasings in there that were very edgy and pushed a lot of boundaries. 

And then I thought, why don't I write a poem or two a day based on the book, publish them on a blog and just put them out into the universe? So I wrote one poem, and then another and another. Then people started to respond to them and the blog got more and more followers. But I didn't actually start thinking about it being a collection or an actual physical book until other people started asking me when my Warhol book was coming out.

I approached No Work Finished Here as a remix project. I would have Andy Warhol's open in front of me on the page I was working on, then I'd write down all of the words or phrases that I thought were interesting. I was thinking to myself, okay so I am going to remix this page with the most usable words. I had some ground rules. If a word was grossly misspelled then I considered it off the table. I didn't put words in my poem that were not on the page, even words like "with." So I really made myself work with whatever that page was giving me.

I probably wouldn't have written this book if my dad hadn't died. I know that might sound a little strange, but that was such a strong catalyst for me to just do something. It was almost like I had to fill this void and give myself something to look forward to every day, because it was such a difficult year for me. When I started this project I needed something fun to focus on and I hadn't felt inspired in so long. So when I did get that burst of inspiration I really wanted to hang on to it, but I don't know if this would have happened if my dad was still here. That's a little hard for me to reconcile, as all this output came out of this really tragic event.