There’s one more teacher I forgot to mention in the last Friday Five answer, who had a big influence on me, and that was Tim Lilburn. He’s a Canadian poet with whom I had the priviledge of studying, as well as just an all-around cool guy. He’s very together, frightfully smart and dauntingly well-read. And his poetry is, to me, somehow deeply fragile and absolutely beautiful. Sometimes I long to read his book To The River again, but alas I don’t have my copy here.
Tim was always a respectful, generous teacher. He was, in a sense that really does encompass the word “profess”, a true professor. When I asked him for a reference letter for grad school at Concordia University, he had me come over to his house for tea, and we talked about Montreal (where Concordia was located)life there, the bookshops, the poetry scene, the reputation my school had, all of thatand something I have to say, I was at ease with him. It was so good to sit together and just talk.
Tim’s kind words about my poems, his encouragement and his very sharp and genuine advice helped me work on many poems which I showed him, but more than that, talking about poems with him helped me develop many literary sensitivities that I now rely on to do my writing work. His thoughts on ghostliness and poetry ring true for me even today, and I only hope someday the poems I write will be close to as good as his.
And I envy my friends who, still living in Saskatoon, sometimes run into him at poetry readings and so on. Ah well… if I can get his address, I shall send him a letter just to see how he’s doing…