Sentenced to Life

4.09 based on 99 ratings & 22 reviews on

Publication date: 09.04.2015
ISBN: 9781447284062
Number of pages: 0


In his insightful collection of poems Clive James looks back over an extraordinarily rich life with a clear-eyed and unflinching honesty. There are regrets, but no trace of self-pity in these verses, which - for all their open dealings with death and illness - are primarily a celebration of what is treasurable and memorable in our time here.

Again and again, James reminds us that he is not only a poet of effortless wit and lyric accomplishment: he is also an immensely wise one, who delights in using poetic form to bring a razor-sharp focus to his thought. Miraculously, these poems see James writing with his insight and energy not only undiminished but positively charged by his situation: Sentenced to Life represents a career high point from one of the greatest literary intelligences of the age.

In the media

A writer whose commanding voice contains a constant variety of colour and tone
Wise, witty, terrifying, unflinching and extraordinarily alive, they are both a great pleasure and a chill in the nerves.
James was diagnosed with emphysema and kidney failure in early 2010 and almost all of the poems [in Sentenced to Life] deal with his illness ("Dying by inches") and his facing up to the end of life. I read an advance copy recently and was moved, perhaps changed, by the experience. It's one thing to encounter such a poem now and then in a literary journal but to read 37 of them in one sitting is overwhelming . . . This is a sad book, depressing even, but it is full of insight and wisdom.
The Australian