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About Elizabeth

Baltimore City

Elizabeth Hazen's picture
Elizabeth Hazen is a poet and essayist whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in EPOCH, Shenandoah, Best American Poetry, Southwest Review, The Threepenny Review, The Normal School, and other journals. She taught secondary school English for twenty years at independent schools in Baltimore before leaving her role as an educator to work with the team at The Ivy Bookshop and Bird in Hand on book curation and events. Chaos Theories, her first full-length poetry collection, was published in... more

Elizabeth Hazen

Better a Serpent

Stepmothers have had a bad rap since the 400s BC when Euripides claimed, “Better a serpent than a stepmother.” From Cinderella’s cruel Lady Tremaine and Snow White’s Maleficent, to the money-hungry, shallow figures in dozens of popular movies, to the zaftig and much younger Gloria in Modern Family, the figure has long embodied a range of stereotypes – often negative – of female identity. My current project explores the roles and representations of mothers and stepmothers in history, literature, and pop culture. Not only does this work allow me to better understand my own experience as a mother and stepmother, but it also allows me to make observations about the stereotypes that often accompany motherhood in all its forms. This lens will allow me to continue my exploration of female identity – a topic that has characterized much of my work in the last decade.
In addition to the poems that focus explicitly on motherhood and family dynamics, a secondary thread in this collection will be the quest to heal wounds that result from sexual violence and to temper the all-too-common self-destructive tendencies that have become part and parcel of growing up female in a deeply misogynistic world. Issues of addiction and recovery, as well as loss and self-discovery also characterize much of my work, and will be significant themes in the collection.

Girls Like Us - Poetry Collection 2020

My second a poetry collection, Girls Like Us, was published in early 2020. I was able to have the launch party for the book just before everything shut down due to Covid-19. Many of the poems in the collection focus on female identity and the contradictory personas women are expected to embody.  The women in these poems both fear and provoke the male gaze, reconciling themselves to the violence that such attentions may bring, and they are in conflict with themselves about their own desires and self-destructive tendencies. Many of the poems also explore themes related to addiction and recovery.  

Chaos Theories - Poetry Collection 2016

From Alan Squire Publishing: "The poems in Elizabeth Hazen’s debut collection, Chaos Theories, spring from a unique collusion of science and art in one poet’s heart and mind. In these often elegiac poems, Hazen explores many forms of love – between children, parents and grandparents; between siblings and friends; between lovers who marry and who divorce. The losses depicted here are explored with a powerful use of poetic language and form, and survival becomes another form of understanding, a way of seeing ourselves and others not as guilty or innocent, good or bad, but as complex, sometimes thwarted beings who are always striving for more wisdom, more empathy, more light. Hazen’s language is elegant, her point of view unflinching, her voice mature and warm.    
"Science in these poems is both information and consolation, a way of untangling chaos, of seeing more clearly and cleanly. Hazen is a poet who understands that we are all searching in various ways to make order of our lives and loves, and who crafts poems that can aid us in that search. This is an astonishing debut collection from a poet simultaneously tenderhearted and wise, who brings hard-won and beautifully wrought insights to every page." 

Pair Shaped Collaboration

Pair Shaped is a project that puts artists working in different media together and asks them to collaborate. According to their mission statement: “We support art as a creative dialogue across all disciplines and mediums. Through critical engagement with each other’s output and practice, our contributors take part in developing original series of works for greater community discussion.”

For my collaboration, completed in 2015, I was paired with west coast visual artist, Brooks Dierdorff. The resulting project yields four poems and four works of art including photographs, a sculpture, and a painting. Inevitably my obsessions with visibility and invisibility, particularly relating to female identity, emerged as I meditated on and responded to Brooks’ work.  


There are times when the medium of poetry isn’t quite right for what I want to say. In the past several years, I have turned to the essay form in these moments, usually writing and reflecting on themes similar to those that I explore in poems, but allowing myself more space on the page and fewer formal restrictions. These essays tend to be meditations on relationships, but also draw inspiration (as do my poems) from science and the natural world. 

  • Thanksgiving on Mars

    Image from the launch of Curiosity, about which I wrote in an essay, "Thanksgiving on Mars." The essay describes the first holiday after my divorce and appears on Baltimore Fishbowl.
  • Lessons from a Turtle

    Image accompanying essay "Lessons from a Turtle," which appears on Baltimore Fishbowl.

Writers Under the Influence

Writers Under the Influence is a poetry series that I started with Benn Ray and Rachel Whang of Atomic Books. Since fall 2013, we have hosted poets from near and far, at the beginning of their careers and well-established as writers. They share recent work and discuss the influences -- other writers, artists, films, politics, pop culture -- that have had an impact on their poetic subject, style, and process. Poets who have read in the series include Mary Jo Salter, Tadeusz Dabrowski, Jane Satterfield, Ned Balbo, Carrie Fountain, and many others. Our goal is to bring poets together to support one another and collaborate, as well as to share their words with the people of Baltimore. The series continues to grow in popularity. 

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Elizabeth's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.