Released on 09 April 2015.

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Sentenced to Life

4.1 based on 119 ratings & 28 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

These tight, lyrical poems, rich in allusiveness and association, demand our full attention and we are rewarded for such engagement . . . Sentenced to Life is a relatively short book at just 56 pages of poems. Its complexity and generosity of spirit make it seem so much longer
Saturday Paper
There are a few other things making Clive James' recent poetry particularly poignant. One is the poet's physical inability to return to his homeland for a last look. Another is the sense that from that "great bunch of guys", as James was once memorably described, the most important one was not the television star but the poet
Sydney Morning Herald
Sentenced to Life . . . speaks of the intensity of emotions before life's end. He writes with what George Eliot described as the "acute consciousness" of "a man looking into the eyes of death
Irish Independent