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date: 14 June 2024

Justice, Donaldlocked

Justice, Donaldlocked

  • Emily R. Grosholz


Donald Justice writes as a poet, painter, and musician whose loyalties belong first to the universal realm of art, but also as a southerner haunted by the Florida of his youth, and the gifted, odd people (artists, of course) who inspired him there. He was born to Vascoe and Mary Ethel Cook Justice in Miami on 12 August 1925. He studied piano and clarinet throughout his school years and, while attending the University of Miami, where he received his B.A. degree in English in 1945, also studied composition with the eccentric composer Carl Ruggles. The link between Justice's musical training and the formal music of his verse has often been noted by critics. His poems, especially those of the later part of the twentieth century, are starred by the figure of Orpheus, various human musicians, and the piano teachers of his childhood, at once mythologized and disenchanted: The Piano Teachers: A Memoir of the Thirties exemplifies the latter, and Justice (or perhaps Ruggles) shows up in After-school Practice: A Short Story. Justice is a gifted artist whose paintings, watercolors, and linocuts grace the covers of some of his books; they are representational but austere, composed from few elements and with a limited palette. Once again, the formal analogy between his painting and poetry is hard to miss.


  • North American Literatures

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