New and Selected Poems

New and Selected Poems

by Donald Justice
     
 

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"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,

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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.

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 It is now superceded by the present volume, which varies the selection and adds many poems written in the intervening 15 years, including a substantial recent group.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)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679765981
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/28/1997
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
785,513
Product dimensions:
6.11(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.62(d)

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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