Timothy Walter (Tim) Lilburn
Tim Lilburn, poet, teacher, essayist, editor (b at Regina, Sask 27 Jun 1950). After growing up in Regina, Lilburn spent several years in Africa before entering the Jesuit order in 1978. He would leave the order a decade later, herding goats on a dairy farm and teaching before returning to Saskatchewan. His return initiated two significant events for Lilburn: teaching at St. Peter's College in Muenster, Saskatchewan, where he and others (such as Don McKay) have continued to hold writing retreats; and interrogating his presence in a place where he and his European ancestors are not indigenous. The resulting sense of cultural and ecological estrangement from his North American home has been the impetus of much of Lilburn's writing. While in Saskatchewan he founded JackPine Press, a small press dedicated to handmade poetry chapbooks. He currently lives in Victoria, BC, where he teaches creative writing at the UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA.
Over the course of 8 poetry collections, Tim Lilburn has crafted a lyric voice that revels in long lines, compound adjectives, and mystical ecologies. Names of God (1986) and Tourist to Ecstasy (1989) drew early comparisons to Gerard Manley Hopkins' work, but his later collections established Lilburn as a unique and important Canadian poet. With Moosewood Sandhills (1994), To the River (1999), Kill-site (2003), and Orphic Politics (2008), the challenging intellectual and linguistic verve of Lilburn's verse became entwined with his growing concern for the physical environment and humans' place in it. The descendants of settler-colonialism, argues Lilburn, cannot be autochthonous - a Greek term he favours meaning "sprung from the land itself." Much of his writing seeks to compensate for this lack by paying attention to a European philosophical tradition that teaches contemplative, respectful engagement with the world. To learn such traditions alongside Native cultures and scientific knowledge is to begin living with decorum as opposed to violent appropriation.
In addition to his poetry, Lilburn has produced 4 collections of essays. In Poetry & Knowing: Speculative Essays and Interviews (1995) and Thinking & Singing: Poetry & the Practice of Philosophy (2002), Lilburn has edited influential prose by such peers as Roo BORSON, Robert BRINGHURST, Dennis LEE, Don MCKAY, John Steffler, and Jan ZWICKY. The latter book, in particular, presents a collection of insightful reflections on human-nonhuman relations. Lilburn's own contributions, which also appear in his collections Living In The World As If It Were Home (1999) and Going Home: Essays (2008), address, as does his later poetry, Euro-Americans' lack of connection to the places they live and strategies for living more humbly and thoughtfully.
Tim Lilburn's work won two Saskatchewan Book Awards in the same year: Living In The World As If It Were Home (1999) for nonfiction and To the River (1999) for book of the year. Lilburn has been nominated for a GOVERNOR GENERAL'S AWARD for poetry twice, for Tourist to Ecstasy (1989) and for Kill-site (2003), which won the prize.