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Orphic Politics

Published by McClelland & Stewart, 2008

Tim Lilburn’s award-winning work has observed the natural world with an intensity of seeing and a reverence that shifts the way we understand our lives. Now, in his brilliant new collection of poems, Lilburn has turned his meticulous, unerring eye to an intimate, utterly compelling exploration of the body’s fall into illness. These haunting poems take the reader below the surface of things into a peculiar world of personal and social alteration. Its incantatory insistence and its shocking imagistic leaps make the poetry a sustained act of therapy, a ritual instrument for change.

“Striking and original... [Lilburn captures] the mystical and ecstatic moments when self and world are united.”

From the author:

I wrote the poems in Orphic Politics between 2003 and 2007. This was a difficult time for me. I got quite ill, was hospitalized, and had a number of surgeries. I also developed an auto-immune condition that made walking difficult. I had never been sick like this before, never lived in the country of the ill, and my health problems went on for a couple of years. The poems respond to all of this. After a while, being sick felt like an orphic immurement. I began to think of other diseases in me that might be in need of healing, noological disorders—a loneliness for things, for example, the residue of colonialism. How to transform these? I subjected myself to the theurgic art of poetry.

— Tim Lilburn

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