Swimming Among The Ruins

By rob mclennan

A review of Swimming Among The Ruins by Susan Gillis

Published on April 1, 2001

Swimming Among The Ruins
Susan Gillis

NuAge Press
$12.95
paperback
96pp
0-921833-70-9

Filled with radiant techniques is another first collection, this one Susan Gillis’s Swimming Among the Ruins, easily the strongest of these three books. In five sections Gillis deals with the difficult terrain of moving through both the heart and the physical landscape. As she writes in “Welcoming Liv,” a simple yet veiled poem,

it’s almost spring.

The birdsongs are changing.

Thank you for touching her.

I walk along outside noticing buds.

No one can take that away from me again.

In the fragmented description of the section “Postcards from London,” Gillis writes emotionally charged shards with vivid description and a vague longing: “I hope you like this /card. I’m trying to use up my currency,” and

and again I recognize you in the crowd,

reach, stutter across the stalls, boxes

of marrow, shoelaces, accomodating words.

Oil, oh my throat. Benediction.

Susan Gillis is a shuddering realist, acutely aware of the physical world, but still emotive and honest enough to make you tremble, want to sing. I want to see more. I must have more. mRb

rob mclennan is an Ottawa poet, editor and publisher.

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