Of Time and Toronto


109 pages
ISBN 0-7780-1138-0
DDC C811'.54





Reviewed by Chris Knight

Chris Knight is copy editor of the National Post in Toronto.


The title of this collection is somewhat misleading—a majority of the
poems have nothing to do with Toronto, and those that are set there
neither expect to find nor strive to create in the reader a knowledge of
the city. Time is the theme that binds many of these poems
together—personal time (aging), natural time (the turning of the
seasons), public time (world events), or some combination of these.
Some, such as “New Year Note,” are tiny, three-line chucklers: “In
this Year of the Rat / already the mice / seem to be getting big
ideas.” Others weave together ideas on a larger scale; cockroaches in
an airmen’s mess hall, for instance, with the world war that is raging
at the time.

Accessibility is a hallmark of Souster’s work. The final, long poem,
“Pictures from a Long-Lost World: John Brown Leads a Raid on the
Arsenal on Harpers Ferry, October 16, 1859,” gave this reader pause,
as I know nothing about the event. And yet the poem manages to tell the
tale of an ill-fated group of abolitionists, neither getting bogged down
in textbook detail nor tossing in symbolism that only a historian could
unravel. Of Time and Toronto walks a fine line between the impenetrable
and the obvious, and Souster makes it look easy.


Souster, Raymond., “Of Time and Toronto,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/29500.