This essay reads the poetry of Ann Lauterbach, from the 1990 s to the present day, tracing the development of her central poetic concept of ‘the whole fragment’. Via close readings of exemplary works, the analysis is supported by her theoretical writings, essays and correspondence, and by archival material. The essay evidences ‘the whole fragment’ as a poetic methodology focused on flaws, ruptures, and transformations. It considers how loss and otherness catalyse the aporetic proclivity of Lauterbach’s poetry in the 1990 s, and analyses emergent formal ‘constellations’ and ‘reels’ as manifestations of ‘the whole fragment’. It then isolates an ethical turn for ‘the whole fragment’ in her poetry of the 2000 s, and traces its renewal through her most recent publications, up to 2018. Following this, it makes several critical postulations. Referencing concepts from Maurice Blanchot and Emmanuel Levinas, it analyses Lauterbach’s responses to 9/11 and the Other, and evaluates her ethical poetry of ‘disaster’. The essay’s conclusion distinguishes Lauterbach’s developments from contemporary practices of the ‘open’ text or ‘poethics’, in order to demonstrate the integrity, importance, and distinctiveness of her œuvre in contemporary American poetry.