The Rules by James Scruton

The Rules front cover small.jpg
The Rules front cover small.jpg

The Rules by James Scruton


Available for pre-order.
Chapbook will be shipped this fall.

© 2019
ISBN: 978-0-9992263-4-6
Book Design: Christopher Nelson
Cover Art: Jordan Whitt
Printed on recycled paper

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Praise for The Rules

James Scruton’s poems are multi-faceted gems. Tightly focused and compact, they are diamond sharp in their clarity, wit, and precision. And beneath the dazzling surface there is fire and depth. In vividly rendered settings, these poems start with the literal rules of ordinary things such as baseball, geometry, and card games, and deepen into rich metaphors. In “No Boy Scout,” Scruton casts his lot with the outsiders, the rule doubters if not the rule breakers. But as the title poem makes heartbreakingly clear, rules are also valuable, even if they can’t save us. And rules reveal paradoxes: in “Cribbage,” for example, success sometimes requires “letting something go”; and “keeping what was good / meant giving up the chance at better.” The Rules is brilliant, and whether you are a rule follower or a rule breaker, you will admire these finely crafted, artful poems.

—Eric Nelson, author of Some Wonder and Terrestrials


In this engaging book of poems, James Scruton presents a stunningly simple and elegant collection of memories, a virtual photo album of images clipped from childhood and re-evaluated through the eyes of an adult self. Baseball, paper airplanes and cap guns are among the experiences that gradually turn us from children into adults who have learned to understand and follow the rules. In “Warning Track,” the poet teaches us to “trust what’s underfoot.” “There are no straight lines in nature,” he reminds us in “Non-Euclidean.” He closes with my particular favorite, “Ghost Runners,” a tribute to those phantom place-fillers on the diamond who “get forced at home and vanish in the dust they didn’t raise.”

—David Jibson, editor of Third Wednesday Magazine


Childhood is a mysterious country we are lucky to survive, yet yearn for as we age. Our nostalgia is not for old wounds or an innocent heart, but a longing for the once-bright recognition of reality in its shining glory. In The Rules, James Scruton evokes an American childhood both familiar and exotic, poignant and enthralling.

—Richard Jones, author of Stranger on Earth and editor of Poetry East

James Scruton

James Scruton is the author, most recently, of the chapbook Blind Season (Orchard Street Press). He is the recipient of many awards, including the Frederick Bock Prize from Poetry magazine, and his poems and reviews appear regularly in journals throughout the U.S. He is currently Professor of English and Associate Academic Dean at Bethel University in McKenzie, Tennessee.