Lawyers and Literature


James Clarke Poetry

Assigned Reading: James Clarke, Oblique Verdicts (Ontario,Canada: Exile Editions, 2017) [Oblique Verdictts is a Canadian edition of Clarke's The Juried Heart)

Clarke's Publications: James Clarke is the author of eight collections of poetry: Silver Mercies (Exile Editions, 1997), The Raggedy Parade (Exile Editions, 1998), The Ancient Pedigree of Plums (Exile Editions, 1999), The Way Everyone Is Inside (Exile Editions, 2000), Flying Home Through the Dark (Exile Editions, 2001), How to Bribe a Judge: Poems from the Bench (Exile Editions, 2002), Forced Passage: A Short History of Hanging (Exile Editions, 2005), and Dreamworks: New and Selected Poems (Exile Editions, 2008). He is also the author of three memoirs: The Kid from Simcoe Street (Exile Editions, 2012), A Mourner's Kaddish: Suicide and the Rediscovery of Hope (Novalis, 2006), and L'Arche Journal: A Family's Experience in Jean Vanier's Community (Griffin House, 1973).

James Clarke, The Juried Heart (New York: Pleasure Boat Studio, 2015)

In 2017, Clarke's The Juried Heart was republished in Canada by Exile Editions under the title Oblique Verdicts.

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 where he served as judge of the Superior Court of Ontario. Clarke, now retired, resides in Guelph, in southwestern Ontario.


The Legal Studies Forum (edited by James R. Elkins) has published five collections of Clarke's poetry: Reluctant Witness (2015), Fugitive Light (2015), Designated Dreamer (2014), All the Broken Places (2013), The Juried Heart (2012). Clarke's latest Legal Studies Forum chapbook collection, Marginal Notes, appears in a 2016 issue of the Legal Studies Forum. Asignificant collection of Clarke's poetry appeared in a lawyer's poetry anthrology published by LSF in 2017.

James Clarke Videos

The Human Face of the Law
[video, 3:30 mins.]

James Clarke Reads"How to Bribe a Judge"
[video, 2:14 mins.]

The Kid from Simcoe Street
[video, 2:59 mins.]

Peruse: Lawyers | Poets | Poetry

Why Poetry?

Talking about Poetry
[video, 0:48 mins.] [Lee Robinson, a lawyer poet, talks about poetry]

Transformational Communication: Poetry of Persuasion
[video, 11:22 mins.] [if the video is viewed in-class, end at 4:30 mins.]

A Ground Level View of Poetry (and the Poet | Edward Hirsch)

Poetry and Prose
[video, 6:00 mins.]

How to Read a Poem
[video, 4:01 mins.]

How to Read a Poem & Fall in Love with Poetry
[video, 1:20:24 mins.] [Edward Hirsch at the Library of Congress, in conversation with Ron Charles, Washington Post]

A Fellow Judge Poet

An Interview: Warren Wolfson Talking About Being a Poet
[video, 4:55 mins.] [Reading, "Eleventh Floor Lies"; the poem appears in James R. Elkins (ed.), Lawyer Poets and That World We Call Law 102 (New York: Pleasure Boat Studio, 2013); for additional Wolfson poems in the anthology, see pp. 103-104, 206] [Warren Wolfson is the author of a chapbook, At This Point (Ampersand, Inc., 2014]

A Lawyer Poet

Richard Krech Reading from In Chambers [video, 9:24 mins.] [Krech's poems are found in Lawyer Poets and That World We Call Law, at 65, 140-141, 211] [Richard Krech, In Chambers: The Bodhisattva of the Public Defender's Office (sunnyoutside, 2008)]


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