Books by the Author
Before the Night Wakes You
Negro Asylum for the Lunatic Insane
This collection reminds us that the grief and anxiety in the Black community are only recognition that what is far too often, too brutally and too unjustly lost is substantial, important and invaluable. Here are words that you need to read, that we all do.
-- Cortney Lamar Charleston, author of Telepathologies
Confessing conflicted love for a Southern homeplace that “romances” and “bludgeons” him, while naming the ironies and entrapments of a larger American (and human) identity, Lawson eloquently reveals a ruminating self—male, black, besieged, bewildered, yet certain, too, of its own song and grace.
-- Sharan Strange, co-founder of the Dark Room Collective
Lawson’s Negro Asylum for the Lunatic Insane constructs a fictional institution based on actual 20th century mental asylums for Black people. This haunting, stark series of vignettes of people who occupy such spaces traverse through surprising and dangerous spaces in the mind. History starts surrounding us as an eerie specter seeping into the present, where mental health is now a demand as part of freedom in America.
--Tara Betts, author of Refuse to Disappear
Negro Asylum for the Lunatic Insane enters the maelstrom of institutionalized racism and cruelty to aim an unflinching gaze at the violence, neglect, and delusions borne of Southern race ritual. These poems wield knives against slavery’s tumultuous afterlife, cutting us free, guiding us through thickets of scar tissue and nightmare till we glean the brutal clarity of American sin and bear witness to the wondrous power of Len Lawson’s artistic and historical imagination. ~Herman Beavers
Part history, part social commentary, part eulogy, I highly recommend this collection to readers trying to find their way through the complexities of race relations. This is a voice that matters.”
–Marjory Wentworth, Former Poet Laureate of South Carolina
Len Lawson is an unflinching voice, whether he is condemning the blood on the hands of his country, exhuming blood-drenched Southern Soil, or exploring the blood in his own veins, his poems stare into the face of history, grief, and death while daring us to do the work of living.”
–Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie, Author of Dear Continuum: Letters to a Poet Crafting Liberation
The Future of Black: Afrofuturism,
Black Comics, and Superhero Poetry
This groundbreaking collection highlights work from poets who have written verse within this growing tradition, including Terrance Hayes, Lucille Clifton, Gill Scott-Heron, A. Van Jordan, Glenis Redmond, Tracy K. Smith, Teri Ellen Cross Davis, Joshua Bennett, Douglas Kearney, Tara Betts, Frank X Walker, Tyree Daye, and many more. In addition, the anthology features the work of artists such as John Jennings and Najee Dorsey, showcasing their interpretations of superheroes, Black comic characters, Afrofuturistic images from the African diaspora.
Hand in Hand: Poets Respond to Race
In this poetry anthology, curated by S.C. poets Al Black and Len Lawson, 39 poets speak to the role of race both in their 21st century worlds and the worlds they inherited from the past. Beautiful and profound, these words and the images they evoke allow readers the opportunity to assess where we are as a culture, how far we’ve come, and how far we need to go.