He was a poet, even as a child.
He wrote his first poem, he recalls, at the age of 31/2, inspired by a desire to "see the choo choo pour fire." He and his family lived within view of Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, which produced iron for nearly 90 years.
Today, the words continue to flow, to be constructed and shaped and rearranged in Glaze's mind, even at the age of 92. Birmingham is his home again in his sunset years, after a successful literary career that has included work as a playwright, poet and journalist.
Glaze was in Montgomery earlier this month to be commissioned by Gov. Robert Bentley as Alabama's next poet laureate, a fitting honor to recognize a lifetime of work, his friends and admirers say.
Many of those fans gathered at NewSouth Books after the commissioning ceremony at the Capitol, where Glaze greeted them and signed copies of "Remembering Thunder," a collection of poems that Montgomery-based NewSouth published in 2002.
Randall Williams, NewSouth's editor-in-chief and a fan of Glaze's writing, said the recognition for "one of Alabama's great, great writers" is long overdue. He said Glaze's works chronicle the events of life that ordinary people can relate to.
"He's sort of an everyman poet, except that he has unusual talent, which everyman does not," Williams said.
Barry Marks, of the Alabama State Poetry Society, agrees, and points to his poems' very human quality.
"It always has a little humor, great depth and a gentle voice," Marks said. "Most poets don't establish a voice as they write, but he certainly has, and it's very recognizable."
Glaze was born in Nashville, Tenn., and raised in Birmingham in a family focused on science. His father and grandfather were both physicians, and his brother is a biochemist.
But his father also wrote poetry, and Glaze can still recite a little poem his father wrote about the family dog, a poem of which he is "very fond."
The written word would be the driving force in Glaze's life. He majored in English at Harvard, and the day after graduation he was drafted. He served as a communications officer in the European theater.
After his service in the Army ended, he eventually came back to Birmingham, and got a job as a reporter at the Birmingham Post-Herald. He would cover the courts for almost a decade, and his work there inspired what is perhaps one of his best-known poems, "I am the Jefferson County Courthouse."
The monologue was shaped by the people he encountered at the courthouse each day during the civil rights era of the 1950s.
Growing up in Birmingham "made me determined that I was going to do some good in the South," Glaze said. "I always loved the Southern people, but I hated a lot of the things they believed in."
He moved to New York City in 1957, in part to escape the civil rights tensions of the era. But he was also developing his skills as a playwright, and was able to get a few of his plays produced.
He met his wife, Adriana, in New York, where she was a dancer and an actress in several productions, including "Camelot." She continues to accompany him on his travels and supports his work.
He spent many years in New York but eventually moved to Miami. He returned to Birmingham about eight years ago, where he and Adriana live now.
Glaze was in a wheelchair for the ceremony at the Capitol, to allow a fractured hip to heal. He was weary after rising early for a long day of travel and greeting well-wishers.
Asked how he was feeling about the day, he said, "It's been inspiring, and it's been wonderful in many ways. But I'm 92 years old, and things get a bit much sometimes."
Yet his sense of humor and way with words were still on display. Asked about his experience writing plays, he said, "I still have a pile of scripts on the upper shelf. Anytime anybody wants one, they can have them."
And he continues to write. He's finishing up a literary mystery, he said, about a Southern deputy sheriff who's called on by the mayor to solve a crime. But he still writes poetry. "I hip hop, one day to the next."
His inspiration, he said, continues to be the words themselves, and the lyrical sense he can create.
"I tend to write what to me is in the ear," he said. "I find I use a lot of odd words. Try to find surprising ways of putting things together."