These are deeply felt poems focusing on the author’s long experience as a judge. In these poems, James Clarke examines what it means to sit in judgement of other people. He challenges his conscience as he examines his life. These are poems which will resonate with anyone who cares about fairness and truth, and particularly anyone who is somehow involved with the legal profession.
James Clarke was born in Peterborough, Ontario, and attended McGill University and Osgoode Hall. He practiced law in Cobourg, Ontario, before his appointment to the Bench in 1983. Clarke served as a judge of the Superior Court of Ontario and is now retired and resides in Guelph, in southwestern Ontario. Clarke is the author of eight collections of poetry. Clarke is also the author of three memoirs: A Mourner’s Kaddish: Suicide and the Rediscovery of Hope (Novalis, 2006) and The Kid from Simcoe Street (Exile Editions, 2012) and L’Arche Journal: A Family’s Experience in Jean Vanier’s Community (Griffin House, 1973).
Justice David McCombs –
Jim Clarke’s poems resonated deeply with me, not just because I’ve been a judge for twenty-two years, but because the poems transcend the courtroom and reveal the beauty, tragedy, and irony of life itself. The best poetry captures these truths in the smallest of things, and Jim’s work does exactly that. His overriding insight is that no one is perfectly suited to pass judgment on one’s fellow man. But for society to be stable, conflicts need to be resolved calmly, respectfully, and with an even hand. Jim’s writing and his career as a judge reveal that he understands all too well that there is no such thing as perfect wisdom. All one can do is try to get it right, and never be seduced by the trappings that accompany judicial office. Justice James Clarke was that kind of judge because he’s that kind of man. And he’s a gifted and honest poet. – Justice David McCombs
Compassionate, powerful, touching.