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In this moving World War II era memoir, James Clarke recalls growing up in the poor and alcohol-ridden neighbourhood of a small Ontario town. As a boy, his father had been a foot soldier, but after coming home from the battlefields he turned to manic drinking, shattering his wife’s dreams, and casting a dark shadow rife with violence over James’ boyhood. This story, told with emotion that is unflinching in its honesty, lets us see just how remarkable it is that James Clarke became not only a man esteemed and honoured as a judge of the Superior Court of Ontario, but as a respected poet, too. The latter third of this book presents a selection of his poems that speaks to the love and loss in his own life, reflects on his courtroom experiences, and expresses his empathy and compassion for those whose dreams have fallen under a dark shadow... all rooted in his days growing up on Simcoe Street.

Introduction by the Honourable R. Roy McMurtry, former Ontario Chief Justice, Attorney General, and Canada’s High Commissioner to Great Britain.

James Clarke is the author of seven books of poetry, including Dreamworks and How to Bribe a Judge, and the memoir about his wife’s suicide, A Mourner’s Kaddish. He lives in Guelph, Ontario. He appeared at IFOA 2012


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