Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Breakwater Newfoundland Poetry Series: Susan Gillis Responds to Sue Sinclair

Sue Sinclair
It’s a rainy night and the street lamps’ orange light streaks the wet pavement. I’ve just come from a reading where Sue Sinclair led discussion of two poems by the featured poets before they read. This project – congenial inquiry into the shape and directions of a poem, essentially an act of spirited appreciation – is part of the work Sue has been doing as Critic in Residence for CWILA (Canadian Women in the Literary Arts). On this occasion, Sue has just finished a major work of her own and begun something new, so it’s perhaps not surprising that the questions and insights she leads us toward are articulate thresholds.

Rereading the poems collected here, it strikes me that this kind of liminal space is one Sue occupies regularly, at least in poetry. In Collarbones, for example, “desire//rises, hinged at the throat” and “we glimpse one another.” A red bell pepper, its awkward shape is “the size/of your heart. Which may look/like this… growing in ways you never/predicted.” Paddling as the sun goes down, “gateway/to nowhere, the beginning of imagining you aren’t.” The dark reversal of the romance of death, a magician’s trick in “Forever.”

And there’s more, much more, when we read on; as in “Breaker,” it could be any of us whose “mind is gathered/like a horse about to take a hurdle, ready to take a leap.”

Susan Gillis is a poet and teacher who divides her time between Montreal and rural Ontario. The Rapids (Brick, 2012) is her most recent book. She keeps a blog on poetry and the writing life at Concrete & River.