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  • New And Selected Poems
  • Written by Donald Justice
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  • Written by Donald Justice
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On Sale: February 04, 2009
Pages: 192 | ISBN: 978-0-307-55854-1
Published by : Knopf Knopf
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

"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.

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.
Donald Justice

About Donald Justice

Donald Justice - New And Selected Poems

Photo © Nathaniel Justice

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 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 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 lived with his wife in Iowa City until his death in August of 2004. The whole of his career is published in a final book, Collected Poems.

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