Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday Muse: Alabama's Poet Laureate

Develop good work habits. When I worked
at the [Birmingham] Post-Herald, if I had an idea
for a poem or a play, I'd rush home after 
my workday and work on it.
~ Andrew Glaze, Alabama Poet Laureate*

Nashville-born but Birmingham-raised Andrew Glaze was named on November 6, 2012, to be Alabama's eleventh Poet Laureate. His four-year appointment began this month. At his commissioning, Glaze said, "Many people have asked me what a poet laureate is. Well, I am a normal man who wears glasses and uses hearing aids. I hope to learn what a poet laureate is." He then added, "I must mention two things. One: Most poetry is awful. Two: Most teachers don't appreciate poetry enough to teach it."**

Information about the honorary state position and related resources are found in my post about Sue Brannan Walker, whom Glaze succeeds.

* * * * *
I tend to write what to me is in the ear.
I find I use a lot of odd words. Try to find
surprising ways of putting things together.
~ Andrew Glaze***

Andrew Glaze, now in his '90s, has published eight volumes of poetry and two collections of selected works. His first book Damned Ugly Children: Poems (Trident Press) was published in 1966, when he was in his mid-40s; widely lauded, the collection was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and also was included on the American Library Association's Notable Books List. His Remembering Thunder (NewSouth) was issued in 2002.

Some other collections, most available through resellers, are Greatest Hits: 1964-2004 (Pudding House Press, 2005); Someone Will Go on Owing: Selected Poems 1966-1992 (Black Belt Press, 1998), winner of the 1998 SEBA Book of the Year Award for poetry; and I Am the Jefferson County Courthouse and Other Poems (Thunder City Press, 1981), a Best Small Press Title. Glaze, in addition, has published translations, including Masque of Surgery: Poems and Translations from the Spanish (Menard Press, 1974).

Called a "sort of everyman poet" with "unusual talent", the Harvard-educated Glaze also has written plays and is at work on a novel Moody's Trip (an excerpt from which appeared in Birmingham Arts Journal). Glaze worked for a number of years in the South as a court reporter, witnessing the hatred and violence of the Ku Klux Klan toward African Americans and civil rights demonstrators, activities that became subjects of some of his exceptional poetry.

Glaze's highly accessible, lyrical poems, typically written in free verse, are marked by a deep intuition about and understanding of the human condition, especially in the context of his life in the South and, later, in New York City and Miami, Florida. His themes range over love, family, marriage, death, politics, city life, and artistic life. 

Just a few quotations from his poems are needed to give a sense of the often surprising, frequently stunning use to which he puts language: "Hope is a catch in the trap of feathers. . . // . . . Soon enough we're trapped in our running, / By what we call happiness, / The girdling hedge of desperation. . . ." ("Trap of Feathers"); "Someone has built at dirigible in my parlor. / What on earth has happened to the boarders?. . . . ("Zeppelin"); ". . . A tunic of dark wood crawls on the island breast / Up where a lowering purple mountain rides, / God of desire; . . ." ("Antigua"); "To a generation raised on Bonaparte / Beethoven's actual appearance / Raised doubts. . . ." ("Ludwig Rellstab's Visit to Beethoven").

Glaze has published poems in numerous literary journals and periodicals, including, most recently, Birmingham Arts Journal, Florida Journal for Literary and Fine Arts, New RiverNew York Quarterly, and Trails & Timberline Quarterly. His work also appears in many anthologies, including Working the Dirt (NewSouth Books, 2003), The New Yorker Book of Poems; Selected by the Editors of the New Yorker (William Morrow & Co., 1994), Alabama Poets: A Contemporary Anthology (Livingston University Press, 1990), and Best Loved Poems (Merit Publishers, 1980). An essay by Glaze about life in Alabama appears in The Remembered Gate: Memoirs by Alabama Writers (Deep South Books, 2003).

Over his long career, Glaze has received a number of awards, including a Bruce Rossley Literary Award (2000), a Hackney Literary Award in Poetry from Birmingham-Southern College, and an ABA Online Award (1998). Poetry magazine presented Glaze with its Eunice Tietjens Award in 1951. 


All Poetry Excerpts © Andrew Glaze

* Quoted from "92-Year-Old Writer Named Alabama's Poet Laureate on Monday in Montgomery",, November 6, 2012

** Quoted from News Release, Alabama Writers' Forum

*** Quoted from "Alabama's New Poet Laureate Says Words Inspire Him",, November 16, 2012 (A video of Glaze's commissioning is available at the link; scroll to the end. The video also is available on YouTube.)

Andrew Glaze Poetry Online: "Trap of Feathers" at Birmingham Arts Journal (see page 23 in the pdf); "Henry Buck" at Poetry Since 1912 (Poetry Magazine);  "Hello—Goodbye" on Tumblr; "earl", "Doubleknit Socks", "Zeppelin",  "What's That You Say Cesar?", and "Alleluia" from Greatest Hits at GoogleBooks;  "Marine Biology", "Three Songs About One Thing", and "Antigua" from Poetry Magazine (May 1950), All at Poetry Foundation; "The Big Eye" and "Henry Buck" from Poetry Magazine (August 1951), Both at Poetry Foundation; "Ludwig Rellstab's Visit to Beethoven" from Poetry Magazine (January 1954), at Poetry Foundation; "A Cut of Copernicus" from Poetry Magazine (February 1956), at Poetry Foundation; "Boomfoolery" from Light: A Quarterly of Light Verse (pdf; Summer 2005); "Skip and Hop" at PoetryBay 

Poems by Glaze in The New Yorker: "Night Walk to a Country Theatre", "September", "Fantasy Street", "Eyes of the Heart", "Ho Farragut!", and "The Outlanders", Accessible via Subscription

Andrew Glaze Papers 1948-1964 at Wisconsin Historical Society, Poems and Related Papers at Harvard University Library

Alabama Department of Archives and History

Alabama State Council on the Arts

Alabama State Poetry Society

The Alabama Writers' Conclave (See the section titled "Visit Our Poet Laureate".)

NewSouth Books (See "Andrew Glaze Named Eleventh Alabama Poet Laureate", November 7, 2012, and the video of the reception honoring the poet.)

In this video, Glaze reads his epic poem "I Am the Jefferson County Courthouse".

Also see Andrew Glaze reading "Earl", "Generations", "A Journey", and "Book Burial". 

Andrew Glaze Podcact at WNYC Archives (1978)

Andrew Glaze on FaceBook

Note: My post on new Wisconsin Poet Laureate Max Garland will appear on January 21.


Maureen said...

Coming up are profiles for appointees to the laureate positions in Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island.

Louise Gallagher said...

Oh yea! More poet laureates to explore.

but.. I must comment -- what wonderful optimism and hope to appoint a 90 something year old poet laureate. :)

the sad red earth said...

A laureate chronicler's work is never done!

Love his titles.