Interviewer: How can language act as a bridge between people and the natural world?
Lilburn: Language might be a wall between the human and non-human worlds, our way of stepping back, storing the present to savour it later, our way of not really being at the party. The name is more cherished than the thing; it cleanly designates essence, while trees and rocks drag around a mess of individual traits. Language, wielded in a particular way, could be a type of inattention, particularly difficult to correct because it supposes it supplies the forms into which true attention is poured. But there’s another way to think of this: language is nature. Then it just lies down in the grass like everything else, or works a course, or moves about at night. But then it would need to be as free of programmatic control as possible, and so a little frightening in its shape-changing autonomy.
I: What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of writing poetry?
L: Music first, speed and music. Then image, leaping audacious yolking. Finally story: but not story as a girder arrangement or frame—music should provide this—but as embellishment, decoration.
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