Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
So Where Are We?

So Where Are We?


Lawrence Joseph

Farrar, Straus and Giroux


“So where are we?” asks Lawrence Joseph in the title poem of his powerful and moving sixth book of poetry. Beginning where his acclaimed collection Into It left off, amid the worldwide violence unleashed by the World Trade Center terrorist attack, Joseph’s poems—global and historic in scope—boldly encounter the imaginative challenges of our time: issues of political economy, labor and capital, racism and war, and “the point at which / violence becomes ontology, / these endless ambitious experiments in destruction, / a species grief.” Against these realities, Joseph presents an intimate, sensuous language of beauty and love, “a separate / palette kept for each poem,” a constant shifting and fluid play of sound and tone. With incisive intensity, intelligence, emotional force, and fierce, uncompromising vision, Joseph speaks from deep within the truths of poetry’s common language. So Where Are We? is extraordinary new work from one of our most distinctive poets.


Praise for So Where Are We?


"With lawyerly intelligence, Joseph dissects a litany of contemporary horrors related to war, the police state, and economic precarity . . . The collection’s extraordinary power [lies] in bearing witness to the 'switchblades then gunshots, police in riot gear,/ media coverage, front page headlines.'" —Publishers Weekly


“Poetry of great dignity, grace, and unrelenting persuasiveness . . . Lawrence Joseph gives us new hope for the resourcefulness of humanity, and of poetry.” —John Ashbery

“Lawrence Joseph’s So Where Are We? poses an apt question that resonates throughout the collection as a Socratic nervous system in a time of international woe. The phrases touch up against each other in a tango where the sacred and the profane converge to reveal the interconnectivity of lives and dreams. Indeed, the collection speaks for personal and public democracy, as if made of something more than words—almost
metallic, but lyrical and beautiful. So Where Are We? runs on the wheels of passion. And each poem is an inspired, made thing by a poet-advocate who has honed a timely song within an urgent intimacy that embraces the complex density of truth.” —Yusef Komunyakaa

“I have just found another accomplished and erudite American poet[:] Lawrence Joseph . . . someone who has been toiling away impeccably for decades writing exactly the sort of thing I have so often proclaimed indispensable.” —Clive James, from Latest Readings

“[Lawrence Joseph’s] poems are as focused on voice—offering a kind of rigorous meditation on history and the self’s ability to thrive—as on image or on story or storytelling . . . tracing how in the world of violence and (to use his post-Yeatsian term) disjointedness, poetry must be written to salvage an economy of feeling and reflection, one that can be set against larger intractable, inhuman forces.” —Lisa Steinman, jacket2

“Like Henry Adams, Joseph seems to be writing ahead of actual events, and that makes him one of the scariest writers I know.” —David Kirby, The New York Times Book Review

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Lawrence Joseph

Lawrence Joseph is the author of five previous books of poetry, including Into It; Codes, Precepts, Biases, and Taboos: Poems 1973–1993, and Before Our Eyes. He is also the author of two books of prose: Lawyerland, a novel, and The Game Changed: Essays and Other Prose. He is the Tinnelly Professor of Law at St. John’s University School of Law, and he has taught creative writing at Princeton. He is married to the painter Nancy Van Goethem and lives in New York City.

Lawrence Joseph

Ted Ely

Lawrence Joseph

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Meet the Author

September 26, 2017

Meet Lawrence Joseph as he reads from his new collection of poems So Where Are We?


From the Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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