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What Is Fair: Poems

Clinton, James Harmon

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ISBN 10: 0807121967 / ISBN 13: 9780807121962
Published by Louisiana State Univ Pr
Used Condition: Very Good Soft cover
From Bluff Books (Natchez, MS, U.S.A.)

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0807121967 Text clean and unmarked. Light wear to covers. TSB-272. Bookseller Inventory # SKU1005637

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Bibliographic Details

Title: What Is Fair: Poems

Publisher: Louisiana State Univ Pr


Book Condition:Very Good

About this title


Infused with sensory detail that pulls its readers into its labyrinth of memory, What Is Fair is a construct of dissonant forces, a world of emotional exile. Throughout the collection’s tales of family, love, connection, and betrayal, James Harmon Clinton seems to put into practice Elizabeth Bishop’s exhortation to “practice losing farther, losing faster.” But loss is not disaster and the accumulation of things lost becomes the important thing gained, the fuel for a voyage of transcendence.

The voice that rises from the melée is that of a survivor, at once romantic and sardonic, constantly concerned with the central issues of justice, rightness, and fairness. Just as its title is both question and answer, the collection itself is both a pensive exploration and a bold statement.

What Is Fair commences with a vision of a childhood baseball game that takes place on a makeshift playing field in the corner of a park. With no umpire present, the matter of judgment is slippery and the pivotal question of fairness is stated for this poem and all those that follow. While the players in this game are exiled to a field with no boundaries, a solitary worker is drawing chalklines on the park’s main playing field, “the almost perfect vectors that show, now for later, / what is fair.”

The collection introduces potent characters, many of whom make recurring appearances. There is a father who dies early, leaving the protagonist to question the memory of his voice. There is a mother who endures even as she forecasts her own demise: “That’s me, Son. When I die I will be a bluebird; / I will sing in your backyard.”
Clinton cites influences from James Joyce to Fellini and Bergman to rock stars. In “The Ephebe’s Way,” he winds all of his disparate themes and influences into a singular vision, a willful misprision of both A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Finnegans Wake: “and finally, eerily sober, chill of blue sky, a voice / to be feared swerved from shore and bay, smithy / of the heart forging an artifice: echo, wing.”

About the Author:

James Harmon Clinton has published poems in many literary magazines, including Cross Roads and Poet. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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