Andrew Glaze

Andrew Glaze Andrew Glaze’s (1920-2016) early life in Alabama inspired him to write some of the best poems to come out of the South during the twentieth century. His experiences in Birmingham, Jefferson County, form a thread throughout his eight books of poetry. His work deals with the human condition in all its aspects, including the imagination itself. Andrew Glaze became Alabama’s 11th Poet Laureate in 2013.

Born in Nashville, Tennessee, on April 21, 1920, Andrew Louis Glaze Jr. moved to Birmingham at an early age with his parents, Andrew Louis Glaze Sr., a physician, and Mildred Ezell Glaze; the couple would have two more children after the move. Glaze attended the Lakeview, Ramsay, and Webb schools before he went on to Harvard University, where he graduated cum laude in 1942. He then served four years as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Force in France before returning briefly to Stanford University in 1946.

Andrew Glaze, 1966 During the next nine years, Glaze worked as a court reporter for the Birmingham Post-Herald, where he gained experience that inspired him to write one of the most important poems of his career, “I Am The Jefferson County Courthouse,” which would be the title poem for his 1981 book. In 1949, he married Dorothy Elliott, with whom he had two children. Glaze eventually became disillusioned by what he witnessed as a court reporter, especially the violence directed toward civil rights demonstrators and the actions of the Ku Klux Klan. In addition, he became fearful of reprisal for testimony that he gave favoring two black men against a deputy sheriff. As a result, in 1957 Glaze relocated to New York City, where he was employed as a press officer for the British Tourist Authority and where many of his most important poems, influenced by life in the city, initially appeared and were widely acclaimed. He and his first wife divorced in 1959. In 1962, he married former professional dancer Adriana Keathley. His first book of poetry, Damned Ugly Children, was published in 1966. Glazes’s poems treat love, family, marital relations, death, the artist, the city, politics, and himself as artist, usually in verse without rhythm or formal rhyme scheme. He wrote both short lyric poetry and longer poems bordering on the epic.

Influenced by numerous poets, Glaze used wit and humor to ask readers to reexamine their assumptions about human behavior, compassion, and beauty. Although Glaze wrote extensively about Birmingham in poems such as “I Am The Jefferson County Courthouse,” “Machine of Years,” “Blind Workman,” and “Red Mountain,” he did not consider himself so much a southern poet as an American poet, mainly because his move to New York City enabled him to enter the mainstream of American writing and nurtured a wider perspective. Several of Glaze’s plays have been produced but not published.

Glaze received Poetry magazine’s Eunice Tietjens Award, and the American Library Association included his book Damned Ugly Children in its Notable Books List for 1966. Library Journal chose I Am the Jefferson County Courthouse as one of the best small press titles of 1981. He won a National Hackney Award, and his selected poems, Someone Will Go On Owing, received the Best Book of the Year Award from the Southeastern Booksellers’ Association in 1998. He was also the first recipient of the ABA Online Award the same year. Glaze died on February 8, 2016, in Birmingham.

Works by Andrew Glaze

Lines: Poems & Lithographs (1964)

Damned Ugly Children (1966)

A Masque of Surgery: Poems and Translations (1978)

I Am the Jefferson County Courthouse & Other Poems (1981)

Earth That Sings: On the Poetry of Andrew Glaze (1985)

Reality Street (1991)

Someone Will Go On Owing: Selected Poems: 1966-1992 (1998)

Remembering Thunder (2002)

Additional Resources

Conkle, D. Steven. “A Fierce White Light: One Perspective on the Poetry of Andrew Glaze.” The Journal 12 (Fall/Winter 1988-89): 84-88.

Doreski, William, ed. In Earth That Sings: On the Poetry of Andrew Glaze. Houston: Ford-Brown & Co., 1985.

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