The selected poems in Desire Never Leaves span Tim Lilburn’s career, demonstrating the evolution of a unique and careful thinker as he takes his place among the nation’s premier writers. This edition of his poetry untangles many of the strands running through his works, providing insight into a poetic world that is both spectacular and humbling.
The introduction by Alison Calder situates Lilburn’s writing in an alternate tradition of prairie poetry that relies less on the vernacular and more on philosophy and meditation. Examining Lilburn’s antecedents in Christian mysticism and the ascetic tradition, Calder stresses the paradoxical nature of Lilburn’s writing—the expression of loss through plenitude. The divine in the natural world is glimpsed in brief flashes; nevertheless, the poet, driven by love, continues his quest for what glitters in things.
Tim Lilburn’s afterword is an evocative meditation grounded in personal history. He speaks of how poetry, a craning quiet, allows one to hear what is alive in the world. He also describes how poetry is resolutely attached to both a historical moment and an individual subjectivity that is inevitably anchored in time. Lilburn’s poetry is both a religious undertaking and a political gesture that speaks to the urgency of situating ourselves where we live.
``The quest for a wider audience for poetry may be quixotic, but this series makes a serious attempt to present attractive, affordable selections that speak to contemporary interests and topics that might engage a younger generation of readers. Yet it does not condescend, preferring to provide substantial and sophisticated poets to these new readers. At the very least, these slim volumes will make very useful introductory teaching texts in post-secondary classrooms because they whet the appetite without overwhelming. ''- Paul Milton, Canadian Literature, 193, Summer 2007
``A welcome and strongly recommended introduction to one of Canada's best poets. ''- Midwest Book Review, February 2007
``Lilburn stands in awe of, and has come as close as humanly possible to capturing, the magnitude and magnificence of creation. ''- John Cunningham, Arc Poetry Magazine, Volum 61, Winter 2009
``Desire Never Leaves . .. is an excellent explanatory introduction to Lilburn's craft, Catholicism, and Prairie mysticism, thanks in part to one of Lilburn's own essays that serves as a postface. ''- Georges Fetherling, Seven Oaks, May 2007
``Readers are bound to appreciate Lilburn's collection, not to mention the welcome inclusion of his afterword which reads like a biography, an essay and a meditation on the quiet power of poetry. ''- Darlene Shatford, Canadian Literature, Number 195, Winter 2007
``[T]he introduction and afterword helped me to understand my own responses better, sharpened my appreciation for a poetry that allures and eludes at the same time. ... Lilburn writes this section [the Afterword] with panache, challenging the ordinary and humdrum way of seeing the world. ''- Paul W. Harland, Journal of Canadian Poetry, January 2009