Lawrence Joseph

(1948 / Detroit, Michigan)

Biography of Lawrence Joseph

Lawrence Joseph poet

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 (2005). His debut, Shouting at No One (1983), won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize. Bookslut critic Nicholas Gilewicz praised Into It (2005), which addresses the events of September 11, as “a very intimate book, one that counterintuitively and productively sidesteps confessionalism.”

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On Utopia Parkway

Between Grand Central Parkway and Little Bay,
from One Hundred Sixty-Ninth and Hillside

to Union Turnpike, to work — countless days the streets
I take to work. The front yard of roses — 

did I write their names down correctly? — 
Zephirine, Charis, Proud Land, Drouhin, Blale.

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