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New and Selected Poems

Overview

"He is one of our finest poets, " Anthony Hecht has said of Donald Justice. Winner most recently of a 1996 Lannan Literary Award, Justice has been the recipient of almost every contemporary grant and prize for poetry, from the Lamont to the Bollingen and the Pulitzer. The present volume replaces his 1980 Selected Poems and contains, in addition, poems from the last 15 years.
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New and Selected Poems

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Overview

"He is one of our finest poets, " Anthony Hecht has said of Donald Justice. Winner most recently of a 1996 Lannan Literary Award, Justice has been the recipient of almost every contemporary grant and prize for poetry, from the Lamont to the Bollingen and the Pulitzer. The present volume replaces his 1980 Selected Poems and contains, in addition, poems from the last 15 years.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 1959, Justice's first collection won the Lamont Prize; 20 years later his Selected Poems won the Pulitzer. In 1987, The Sunset Maker (poems and other works) appeared and A Donald Justice Reader, another selection of mostly poems, followed in 1991. This collection features works culled from six previous titles, plus a dozen uncollected poems, among them a pantoum and sonnet (among the 15 poems labeled new are three from Reader, with only minor changes here). Meter and rhyme are featured throughout. If not using-often irregularly-a classic form, Justice improvises one, melding language, meaning and rhythm in a seemingly seamless whole. A haunting four-part sequence, My South, epitomizes his work: two ``sonnets'' don't rhyme, two only irregularly; one has 13 lines; meters vary. Small revisions of 1991's South are telling, e.g., part 4, ``On the Train,'' now includes the lines ``unless/ We should pass down dim corridors again,'' which give a wider, mysterious meaning to the original, specific phrase ``darkened aisle.'' Until we see a complete collected works, this is probably the definitive Justice. (Sept.)
Library Journal
The definitive Justice so far; from a poet who writes purely and precisely of simple things.
Booknews
Justice received the Pulitzer Prize in 1980 for a volume of Selected Poems. It is now superceded by the present volume, which varies the selection and adds many poems written in the intervening 15 years, including a substantial recent group. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679765981
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/28/1997
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 1,327,901
  • Product dimensions: 6.11 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

Donald Justice was born in Miami, Florida, in 1925. A graduate of The University of Miami, he attended the universities of North Carolina, Stanford, and Iowa. His books include New and Selected Poems; A Donald Justice Reader (1991); The Sunset Maker (1987), a collection of poems, stories and a memoir; Selected Poems (1979), for which he won the Pulitzer Prize; Departures (1973); Night Light (1967); and The Summer Anniversaries (1959), which received the Academy's Lamont Poetry Selection. He has held teaching positions at Syracuse University, The University of California at Irvine, Princeton University, The University of Virginia, and The University of Iowa, and from 1982 until his retirement in 1992, he taught at the University of Florida, Gainesville. He won the Bollingen Prize in Poetry in 1991 and has received grants in poetry from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He was elected a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets in 1997. He lives with his wife, Jean Ross, in Iowa City.
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Read an Excerpt

Poem to Be Read at 3 A.M.
(from "American Sketches")

Excepting the diner
On the outskirts
The town of Ladora
At 3 A.M.
Was dark but
For my headlights
And up in
One second-story room
A single light
Where someone
Was sick or
Perhaps reading
As I drove past
At seventy
Not thinking
This poemIs for whoever
Had the light on

Pantoum of the Great Depression

Our lives avoided tragedy
Simply by going on and on,
Without end and with little apparent meaning.
Oh, there were storms and small catastrophes.

Simply by going on and on
We managed. No need for the heroic.
Oh, there were storms and small catastrophes.
I don't remember all the particulars.

We managed. No need for the heroic.
There were the usual celebrations, the usual sorrows.
I don't remember all the particulars.
Across the fence, the neighbors were our chorus.

There were the usual celebrations, the usual sorrows.
Thank god no one said anything in verse.
The neighbors were our only chorus,
And if we suffered we kept quiet about it.

At no time did anyone say anything in verse.
It was the ordinary pities and fears consumed us,
And if we suffered we kept quiet about it.
No audience would ever know our story.

It was the ordinary pities and fears consumed us.
We gathered on porches; the moon rose; we were poor.
What audience would ever know our story?
Beyond our windows shone the actual world.

We gathered on porches; the moon rose; we were poor.
And time went by, drawn by slow horses.
Somewhere beyond our windows shone the world.
The Great Depression had entered our souls like fog.
And time went by, drawn by slow horses.
We did not ourselves know what the end was.
The Great Depression had entered our souls like fog.
We had our flaws, perhaps a few private virtues.

But we did not ourselves know what the end was.
People like us simply go on.
We have our flaws, perhaps a few private virtues,
But it is by blind chance only that we escape tragedy.

And there is no plot in that; it is devoid of poetry.

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Table of Contents

New Poems
On a Picture by Burchfield 3
The Artist Orpheus 4
Lorca in California 5
A Variation on Baudelaire's "La Servante au Grand Coeur" 7
Invitation to a Ghost 9
Vague Memory from Childhood 10
The Miami of Other Days 11
On an Anniversary 13
A Man of 1794 14
Body and Soul 15
On a Woman of Spirit Who Taught Both Piano and Dance 17
Dance Lessons of the Thirties 18
Banjo Dog Variations 19
Pantoum of the Great Depression 22
Sadness 24
From the Summer Anniversaries (1960)
The Summer Anniversaries 29
The Poet at Seven 31
Landscape with Little Figures 32
On the Death of Friends in Childhood 33
The Wall 34
A Dream Sestina 35
Sestina on Six Words by Weldon Kees 37
Here in Katmandu 39
Sonnet to My Father 41
Tales from a Family Album 42
Ladies by Their Windows 44
Women in Love 46
A Map of Love 47
Another Song 48
In Bertram's Garden 49
A Winter Ode to the Old Men of Lummus Park, Miami, Florida 50
Counting the Mad 51
On a Painting by Patient B of the Independence State Hospital for the Insane 52
To Satan in Heaven 53
From "Bad Dreams" (1959)
Chorus 55
Speaker 57
Epilogue: to the Morning Light 58
From Night Light (1967)
Time and the Weather 63
To the Unknown Lady Who Wrote the Letters Found in the Hatbox 64
The Grandfathers 65
Ode to a Dressmaker's Dummy 66
But That Is Another Story 67
Heart 68
A Local Storm 69
Variations for Two Pianos 70
Anonymous Drawing 71
American Sketches 72
Elsewheres 74
Men at Forty 76
Early Poems 77
The Thin Man 78
The Man Closing Up 79
For the Suicides 82
The Tourist from Syracuse 84
Bus Stop 86
Incident in a Rose Garden (1) 87
Incident in a Rose Garden (2) 88
In the Greenroom 90
At a Rehearsal of Uncle Vanya 91
Last Days of Prospero 92
From Departures
Fragment: to a Mirror 97
A Letter 98
Portrait with One Eye 99
Self-portrait as Still Life 100
Lethargy 101
The Telephone Number of the Muse 102
From a Notebook 103
Variations on a Text by Vallejo 105
Poem 106
Homage to the Memory of Wallace Stevens 107
Sonatina in Yellow 109
Three Odes 111
Absences 115
From Selected Poems
An Old-fashioned Devil 119
The Return of Alcestis 120
Little Elegy 121
First Death 122
The Sometime Dancer Blues 125
Unflushed Urinals 126
Memories of the Depression Years 127
In the Attic 129
Thinking About the Past 130
Childhood 131
From the Sunset Maker (1987)
Mule Team and Poster 137
My South 138
American Scenes (1904-1905) 141
Nineteenth-century Portrait 143
Young Girls Growing Up (1911) 144
Children Walking Home from School through Good Neighborhood 145
October: A Song 146
Sea Wind: A Song 147
Last Evening: At the Piano 148
Psalm and Lament 149
In Memory of My Friend, the Bassoonist, John Lenox 151
In Memory of the Unknown Poet, Robert Boardman Vaughn 153
Hell 154
Villanelle at Sundown 155
Nostalgia and Complaint of the Grandparents 156
Cinema and Ballad of the Great Depression 158
Nostalgia of the Lakefronts 160
Tremayne 162
Mrs. Snow 165
The Pupil 166
The Piano Teachers: A Memoir of the Thirties 167
After-school Practice: A Short Story 171
The Sunset Maker 172
Notes 175
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