Taking Care of Time

Davis, Cortney

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poetry

Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin
  • Date of entry: Aug-14-2018
  • Last revised: Jan-02-2019


In this volume by the esteemed nurse-poet/writer, Cortney Davis, are 43 previously published poems (some revised for this collection), assembled in 3 sections-- the middle section featuring her long poem, "Becoming the Patient," that recounts through 10 shorter poems her time "in the hospital."

The poems in the surrounding sections describe in beautiful and intimate detail her patients' lives and the call to and practice of nursing. Featured throughout are battles won and lost-- with disease, with the medical staff, and as the title-- taking care of time-- suggests, the finitude we all face. No matter the difficulties of hospital life-- whether as practitioner or patient-- its familiarity  provides grounding and comfort in these poems as, for example, heard through the speaker of "First Night at the Cheap Hotel" who tells us:

"Being here is like being sick in a hospital ward
without the lovely, muffling glove of illness.
In hospital, I would be drowsy, drugged into a calm
that accepts the metal door's clang,
the heavy footfall right outside my door.
All these, proof of life,
and there would be a nurse too, holding my wrist,
counting and nodding, only a silhouette in the dark" (p.67)

And if sometimes the experiences and images become too hard to bear, the skillful nurse-poet can, as Cortney Davis does in "On-Call: Splenectomy," "tame them on page” (p.52).


This is not the first--nor likely the last-- award-winning book by Cortney Davis. Notably, though, taking care of time is the first winner of the Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize--and is also the first book for the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities Center for Poetry at Michigan State University Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Series. The series--and the Prize- are off to a great start with this selection.


First place in the 2018 American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Awards in the category of Creative Works.

Primary Source

Michigan State University Press


Wheelbarrow Books

Place Published

East Lansing Michigan


1st edition (March 1, 2018)

Page Count

70 pages