Lawrence Joseph (born 1948 in Detroit, Michigan) is an American poet, writer, essayist, critic, lawyer, and professor of law.
Joseph's grandparents, Lebanese Maronite and Syrian Melkite Eastern Catholics, were among the first Arab Americans to emigrate to Detroit, where both Joseph's parents were born. He attended the University of Detroit Jesuit High School, the University of Michigan (B.A, 1970), Magdalene College, Cambridge (B..A 1972, M.A. 1976), and the University of Michigan Law School (J. D. 1975).
Joseph, perhaps best known as a poet, won the 1983 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize from the Pitt Poetry Series for his first book, Shouting at No One. His second book of poems, Curriculum Vitae, was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 1988. His most recent books of poems, Before Our Eyes (1993); Codes, Precepts, Biases, and Taboos: Poems 1973–1993 (2005), Into It (2005); and So Where Are We?, are published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Joseph is also the author of Lawyerland, a book of prose, published by FSG in 1997. Lawyerland has been optioned for a film by John Malkovich, Lianne Helfon and Russell Smith's Mr. Mudd Productions. The film will be written and directed by John Walter (How To Draw a Bunny). A symposium, "The Lawyerland Essays", appeared in the Columbia Law Review.
Joseph's essays and criticism have appeared in magazines and newspapers, and in collections of essays, both in the United States and internationally. His essay on Motown music and Rhythm and Blues, "The Music Is," which originally appeared in Tin House, was included in Da Capo Best Music Writing 2003, chosen by Guest Editor Matt Groening.
Joseph is also the Tinnelly Professor of Law at St. John's University School of Law in New York City. Joseph served as law clerk to Justice G. Mennen Williams of the Michigan Supreme Court. He then joined the faculty at the University of Detroit School of Law. In 1981, he moved to New York City, where he was associated with the firm of Shearman & Sterling. Professor Joseph joined the St. John's law faculty in 1987.
Writing as a lawyer, Joseph has published in areas of labor, employment, tort and compensation law, jurisprudence, law and literature, and legal theory. He has served as Consultant on Tort and Compensation Law for the Michigan State Senate's Commission on Courts, and as Consultant for the Governor of Michigan's Commission on Workers' Compensation, Occupational Disease and Employment.
He has lectured at law schools throughout the country, including Stanford University, Columbia University, Harvard University, University of Michigan, New York University, University of Pennsylvania, and Northwestern University, and is former Chairperson of the Association of American Law Schools section on Law and Interpretation.
Among his awards are a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, and a grant from the Employment Standards Division of the United States Department of Labor. In 2006 he was named the third recipient of the New York County Lawyers Association's "Law and Literature Award" (prior recipients are Louis Auchincloss and Louis Begley). As an undergraduate at Michigan, he received a major Hopwood Award in poetry.
In 1989 he lectured on law and on poetry in Jordan, Palestine, and Egypt through the cultural affairs offices of the United States embassies in each country. In 1994, he taught in the Council of the Humanities and Creative Writing Program at Princeton University.
- Shouting at No One, poetry, (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1983)
- Curriculum Vitae, poetry, (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1988)
- Before Our Eyes, poetry, (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1993)
- Lawyerland, prose, (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997)
- Codes, Precepts, Biases, and Taboos: Poems 1973–1993, poetry, (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005)
- Into It, poetry, (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005)
- The Game Changed: Essays and Other Prose, criticism, (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2011)
- So Where Are We? Poems, poetry, (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017)
Contemporary Authors Online. The Gale Group, 2004. PEN (Permanent Entry Number): 0000126684.
Moghabghab, Emma, and Sirène Harb. "Lawrence Joseph's Into It: A Political Study of Power and Community." Studies in the Humanities 37.1&2 (2010): 3–21.
- New York Times Book Review 2005 essay on Codes, Precepts, Biases, and Taboos and Into It
- Academy of American Poets: Lawrence Joseph biography
- St. John's University: Professor Joseph profile
- Variety: Lawyerland the movie
- Writer Lawrence Joseph keeps memories of old store alive
- Jacket 2 Feature: Poet with a Steady Job: An Introduction to Lawrence Joseph, 2012, edited by Eric Selinger with essays by Thomas DePietro, Norman Finkelstein, Lawrence Joseph, John Lowney, Frank D. Rashid, Eric Selinger, Lisa Steinman, Lee Upton, and Tyrone Williams
- Commonweal, Portrait of Our Time: An Interview with Lawrence Joseph by Anthony Domestico 2017
- Living in the Towers' Shadow, by David Skeel, review of So Where Are We, Wall Street Journal, September 10, 2017
- Kenyon Review 2017 Interview with Lawrence Joseph
- Reviews of So Where Are We?
- So Where Are We? One of the Most Brilliant and Intense People I've Ever Known Has Some Answers, by Marianne Szegedy-Maszak, Mother Jones, November 25, 2017
- The Best Poetry of 2017, by David Orr, New York Times Book Review, December 22, 2017
- Lawrence Joseph in conversation with Paul Elie at Georgetown University, Feb. 1, 2018