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Kill-site


Published by McClelland & Stewart, 2003

Winner of the 2003 Governor General’s Award for Poetry

To his virtuoso collection of new poems, Tim Lilburn brings a philosopher’s mind and the eyes and ears of a marsh hawk. This series of earthy meditations makes the strange familiar and the familiar strange. Lilburn’s close study of goldenrod, an ice sheet, or night opens into surprising interior and subterranean worlds. Pythagoras lurks within the poplars, Socrates in stones, people fly below the ground. Elsewhere, the human presence of motels and beer parlours is ominous. Kill-site is an exploration of a human’s animal nature. Lilburn invites the reader to “Go below the small things... then / walk inside them and you have their kindness.” Though a natural progression from Lilburn’s last book, To the River, in Kill-site, the poet moves toward a greater understanding of the human, of sacrifice.

“Lilburn has dug down to a speech which is like ‘unbearable nudity.’ Everything comes together here: immensity of canvas, ambition of language and line.”
— Jury comments for the Governor General’s Award

“The uniqueness of [Kill-site] rests in its eerily mystical descriptions of the natural world... Rhapsodic... Lilburn’s insights [are] fresh and arresting.”
Quill & Quire

“Lilburn’s contemplative language has a resonant beauty.”
— Montreal Gazette
 

From the author:

I began writing the poems in Kill-site in 1997. I knew that I wanted the book to be somehow different from my previous book, To the River; I suspected that it might turn out to be, but didn’t know how this difference would show itself. It took me some time to become comfortable with the direction the Kill-site poems took.

Kill-site is a long poem about prayer; a long poem about yet another failed expedition to track the hidden natures of things. It has seemed to me for a while that the European mind hasn’t properly settled in western North America, isn’t autochthonic here. So the book is about looking around, and where the long look could take you.

— Tim Lilburn

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