Running Out of Time


82 pages
ISBN 0-919897-35-5
DDC C811'.54





Reviewed by Chris Knight

Chris Knight is a copy editor at Canadian Press.


Betsy Struthers has crafted a superb collection of poems that embodies a
distinctly Canadian spirit without resorting to either nationalism or
the hackneyed images of sled dog and field of wheat. Her verse
communicates on a subtler, more human level, dealing quietly but
thoroughly with the dreams and fears that brush against us all.

The landscape is one of duck hunters waiting in their boats, of deer on
a highway, of dusty summer cottages being cleaned and mended in the
spring. But the landscape is only the beginning. The poetry can move
from an alien hotel room into familiar lovemaking, as in: “Steaming /
we towel and dive / into the haven of sheets, / the coupling of limbs
and lips / that can swamp us anywhere / even at home.” And it can just
as easily mix the familiar objects of home with a keening cry for the
loss of a father or a child. In “Giving Up,” the poet writes,
“when you bury this grief / you can work at your desk / until two in
the morning, / lie in the sun all afternoon / drinking white wine / the
only body you can punish / is your own / the one you also pleasure.”

Struthers uses punctuation sparingly and her poems often end without a
period, as if the thoughts of the poet had merely drifted off, out of
reach of the page. It is a useful technique and one that avoids
confusion, because the structure of the lines of verse dictates where
pauses are to be placed.

Although the occasional stanza merely lists objects or scenery without
creating any sense of motion or development, for the most part Struthers
sets her scenes with remarkable fluidity, creating a striking assortment
of emotional and physical vignettes.


Struthers, Betsy., “Running Out of Time,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,