Lawrence Joseph

(1948 / Detroit, Michigan)

Lawrence Joseph
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The grandson of Lebanese and Syrian Catholic immigrants, poet and professor of law Lawrence Joseph was born in Detroit and received his BA and JD from the University of Michigan, and a second BA and MA from Cambridge University. His early poetry often references the discrimination and violence he witnessed as a child, including the 1967 Detroit riots and the violent attempted robbery in 1970 of his father, a grocer. Joseph’s work, informed by his practice as a lawyer, engages themes of power and truth with an unsentimental clarity.

Joseph is the author of several collections of poetry, including So Where Are We? (2017) and Codes, Precepts, Biases, and Taboos: Poems 1973–1993 ... more »

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Best Poem of Lawrence Joseph

On Peripheries of the Imperium

i

Eye of the hurricane the Battery, the Hudson
breached, millions of gallons of it
north on West Street filling Brooklyn-Battery
Tunnel, overflowing into the World Trade Center site,
East River, six-to-eight-foot wall of water on South,
Front, Water, John, Fulton, Pearl,
Brooklyn Bridge's woven cables lifted delicately
in hurricane sky.


ii

Perhaps I make too much of it, that time,
Eldon Axle, brake plates dipped
in some sort of liquid to protect them from
dust, dirt, metal chips the grinding caused —
that time, night shift, ...

Read the full of On Peripheries of the Imperium

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