Praise and Threnody



“Robert Hazel has written poems that stand, not only apart, but high and alone.” — Wendell Berry

Gritty and tender, lyrical and discordant, Robert Hazel’s poetry illuminates the mystical in the commonplace, the sacred body in the exploited flesh, the human voice nearly lost in the racket of our machines. His vision of America’s life never flinches, it never loses faith, and it stays true to this day. 

In March 2022, Robert Hazel was posthumously inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame. Other inductees include bell hooks (2018), Barbara Kingsolver (2017), Gurney Norman (2019), and Wendell Berry (2015). At the ceremony, poet Maurice Manning read from PRAISE AND THRENODY.

Mr. Hazel is his own kind of poet. He ought to be one of the best of the second half of the century. There is no poet of his generation to whom more has been given. — Allen Tate

It is a language akin to the mystery of the commonplace, sensuous almost to the point of mysticism. — Allen Planz

I consider Robert Hazel to be one of the most important Southern poets writing today … without parallel for evocation of life and passion… The honesty, breath and depth of his insights amount to a sense of a total comprehension of the times. — David Ignatow

Robert Hazel has a mind that could perhaps be described as “rude….” He dislikes the usual clean-shaven version of American history…. — Robert Bly

So large and pure and new a voice so suddenly there. Hart Crane pouring back into the language, and behind him Walt Whitman, the main current flowing, but gracefully; the natural, special, endlessly ambitious American poetics; the true inheritance. — Barry Spacks

[Praise and Threnody] adds another voice to the landscape of American poetry from the 1950s to 1970s, which is sorely missing. It is a book by a poet who merits renewed and further consideration. Amsterdam Quarterly

About Robert Hazel

Robert Hazel is the author of three novels and five collections of poetry. In 2022, his legacy was honored with his induction into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame. Robert Hazel was born in Indiana in 1921. After serving in the US Marines Corp he attended George Washington University and Johns Hopkins University and was poetry editor at The Nation. As a teacher of writing and literature, he was much loved by his students, who included Rita Mae Brown, Bobbie Ann Mason, Wendell Berry, Gurney Norman, and James Baker Hall, at the University of Kentucky, Oregon State, New York University, and Virginia Tech. Robert Hazel died in 1993. 




Sleep in August (excerpt)

Where veined rocks pulse in the sun’s aftermath
the dry air moves across the earth;
leaves tick the visible days
here in time’s motionless always;
among slow-burning stones in the quiet rise
of leaves, on their green frieze,
only the hooves know August’s iron dances
in a flow of light over sleek bodies and wire fences
that will hang up, to bleed and clot,
in nibbling thaw and pelt-slipping rot,
crippled dogs and foxes
at the loose ends of cold chases…