Justice, Donald (Rodney) 1925-2004

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JUSTICE, Donald (Rodney) 1925-2004


See index for CA sketch: Born August 12, 1925, in Miami, FL; died August 6, 2004, in Iowa City, IA. Educator and author. Justice was a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and former professor at the University of Iowa's prestigious writing school. His undergraduate work was completed at the University of Miami in 1945, and this was followed by a master's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1947 and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1954. Like many poets who practice a genre that traditionally does not sell well in America, Justice earned his living in academia, teaching at the University of Miami for a few years after earning his doctorate, and then moving to Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, before he joined the University of Iowa in 1957. At first, he was a visiting lecturer only, but he soon became an assistant professor of English at Iowa and, in 1971, a full professor. He remained at Iowa until 1982, when he returned to his home state of Florida to teach at Gainesville until 1992. As a poet, Justice was not particularly prolific, but his output was widely believed to be of the highest caliber. Among his works are The Summer Anniversaries (1960; revised edition, 1981), Departures (1973), Selected Poems (1979), which won the Pulitzer, and Newand Selected Poems (1995); A Donald Justice Reader: Selected Poetry and Prose (1991), won the Bollingen Prize for poetry. Shunning confessional poetry, Justice was known for creating powerful verses that often possess a musicality to them, a fact attributed to the poet's extensive music background as a pianist. He was also noted for his ability to employ traditional poetic forms, such as sonnets and free verse, in new and original ways. Although he at times brooded over the fact that his works were not better known to the public, Justice was critically acclaimed, and in 2003 he was invited to be poet laureate of the Library of Congress. Unfortunately, by this time he was suffering too much from Parkinson's disease and had to decline the offer. A final compilation of his works, titled Collected Poems, was published in 2004.



Contemporary Poets, seventh edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2001.


Chicago Tribune, August 12, 2004, section 3, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, August 16, 2004, p. B9.

New York Times, August 10, 2004, p. C15.

Times (London, England), August 19, 2004, p. 37.

Washington Post, August 13, 2004, p. B5.