A pink bathrobe turns into a kingfisher; a kitchen floor displays the stigmata of an oncoming storm; a Stone Age axe-head surfaces in France for someone from Newfoundland to stumble over; the covers of a book vibrate through broken intimacy. Here, friendship has the power to transform; love, to disembody. In a series of radical translations of the Earl of Surrey's sixteenth-century sonnets, a garden of plastic delights uproots the pastoral scene; a gallant compliment on social pedigree translates as salacious appreciation for a chef's handling of a ripe tomato. The poems of Volta turn place and time over on themselves, examining how we make what we call home, and what it is to be in relation: to people, to place, to history. A shape-shifting speaker rejects the idea of a singular self, and invites the reader to join a quest for that hypothetical meeting-place where community beckons but is never reached.
Susan Gillis has lived on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Canada, and now lives most of the year in Montreal, where she teaches English. Her poems have appeared in literary journals and anthologies, and her first book, Swimming Among the Ruins (Nuage/Signature 2000), was shortlisted for the 2001 Pat Lowther Award and the 2001 Re-Lit Award. "Kitchen Floor," a limited-edition broadside illustrated by Lori Doody, was published by Delirium Press in 2002. Volta is Susan's second book.
“At the literal and figurative heart of Susan Gillis's estimable second book, Volta, is a series of 15 "translations" of the work of the Earl of Surrey, the 16th-century poet. These poems, however, are not exercises in academic hermeticism. Rather, these "permutations" are entirely original turns on a particularly suggestive source, "translations" into distinctively modern and passionate revisions. Throughout the quietly lyrical Volta, Gillis wears her learning both light and well. These poems bespeak a balanced, measured, and unpretentious sensibility that takes love as it principal theme”
—The Winnipeg Free Press