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In Her Fifties

 In Her Fifties. Black Moss Press, 2005

The tenth book by Betsy Struthers, In Her Fifties (published by Black Moss Press) combines poetic textes about a 1950s childhood with lyrical poems about being in one’s 50s at the beginning of a new millennium.

In the ‘50s: From the collective “we” of childhood lived in the rough-and-tumble of games in the long backyards of a suburban childhood in the 1950s, the pieces in the first section move in narrative sequence to the individual voice of a girl coming to terms with puberty, sexuality, and violence in her neighbourhood and the world at large. These pieces balance on a fine line between prose and poetry, character and persona, autobiography and fiction. As Karen Mulhallen, editor of Descant, has said: “You have captured those extremes of childhood beautifully. The courage and the meanness. The latter is proverbial. But the courage to support, to protect, this is what is too often forgotten. You have woven them together.”

In her 50s: The girl grown up is a woman in quiet contemplation in a room full of books – “some / with her name on their thin spines” – ruminating on what it is to be in one’s 50s: long married, caught between caring for her parents and her child, full of memories, suffering bodily changes again, the hot flashes and insomnia of menopause. In spite of the violence around her, on her street and in the world after 9/11, she finds comfort and community in her marriage and with her friends.

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