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Writing Tips

Poetry Month writing tip: Tim Lilburn

To celebrate National Poetry Month, the Governor General's Award-winning poet treats us to a tip on the power of writerly obsession.

Soak yourself in some obsession—rural West Africa (current and historical), pop music from the mid 1970s, ceremonial Taoism—and see how this bends your language and syntax and deepens your eye. Allow these bends and deepenings to share the leadership of your work. But let the preoccupations be true obsessions, not just research.This suggestion, yes, resembles Charles Olson's saturation method, but my plan has less of the will in it. Maybe your past will thrust such a focus on you; maybe you'll find it in a core eros; either way, you discern, then acquiesce.

Tim Lilburn's latest book of poetry is Assiniboia. Tim is the author of seven previous books of poetry, including To the River, Kill-site, and Orphic Politics. His work has received the Governor General's Award and the Saskatchewan Book of the Year Award, among other prizes. Lilburn is also the author of two essay collections, Living in the World as if It Were Home and Going Home, and edited two other collections on poetics. He teaches at the University of Victoria.

Photo credit: Dallas V. Duobaitis

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