Released on 09 April 2015.

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Sentenced to Life

4.1 based on 112 ratings & 27 reviews on


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 magical work, direct, lyrical, moving, and wholly unsentimental
New York Review of Books
It's not common for any book of poetry to hit number two in the bestseller charts, but there it stands . . . Clive James, cracking graceful jokes in a room full of old friends and young admirers, showed there's another way to [face death]
Evening Standard
Wise, witty, terrifying, unflinching and extraordinarily alive, they are both a great pleasure and a chill in the nerves.