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||Louise Glück (b. 1943)|
American poet, essayist, and critic, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2020. According to the Finland-Swedish poet Tua Forsström, a member of the Swedish Academy academy from 2019, the academy unanimous in its decision. Louise Glück is one of the leading poetic voices of her generation, who has been compared to such poets as Sylvia Plath and Stanley Kunitz. Glück's delicately crafted poems have the quality of transforming the personal into something universal, which is rich with mythical and archetypal meanings.
"It begins quietly
Louise Glück was born in New York City, the daughter of Daniel Glück, a businessman, and Beatrice Glück (née Grosby), who was of Russian Jewish descent. Glück's father is said to have helped develop the X-Acto knife, originally invented in the 1930s by a medical supplier named Sundel Doniger.
Glück grew up in Long Island. Right since her childhood, her
parents supported her writing and drawing. She started reading at a
very early age. "Before I was three, I was well grounded in the
Greek myths, and the figures of those stories, together with
certain images from the illustraions, became fundamental referents." (The Poetry of Louise Glück: A Thematic Introduction by Daniel Morris, 2006, p. 25)
By the time she was five, she was already composing poems. Glück'a
father, who had wanted to become a writer, told her the tale of St.
Joan, when she was a child; the (starving) character of Joan has
appeared in several of her poems. However, it was her mother, whom
Glück wanted to please and whose approval mattered to her most.
1961 she graduated from Hewlett High School, New York. Before
transferring to Columbia University, in New York City, she attended
Sarah Lawrence College, in Bronxville, for one year. Glück
studied poetry with Stanley Kunitz, whom she considred a "companion
spirit," and Leonie Adams, but she never graduated. In 1966 she
received the Academy of American Poetry prize.
a teen, she suffered from severe anorexia, which she has
connected to the death of an older sister before.
With the help of psychotherapy, she eventually overcame her illness.
Moreover, dream analysis pushed her to cultivate her capacity to study
images as a language. Glück
has touched upon the subject of anorexia in the long poem 'Dedication
of Hunger' in Descending Figure (1980), arguing that a woman's body is
"a grave." In Ararat (1990) the dominant
theme is death. In this work the speaker reminds the reader: "That’s
why I’m not to be trusted. / Because a wound to the heart / is also a
wound to the mind." ('The Untrustworthy Speaker') Basically
her alter ego, the lyric "I," is a poetic construct. Of course there is
always the question: is she reliable when she presents herself as
In spite of the recurret subjects – pain, grief,
loss, death – Glück's poems are not devoid of glimmers of hope and
sense of humour, which often takes the form of ironic self-mockery. She
has evaded labels and categorization ("Jewish American poet" or "female
poet," etc.). To many readers Glück has appeared as a feminist, but she
has said that she hardly knows what feminism means.
Glück's house in Vermont was destroyed by fire in April 1980. "I watched the
destruction of all that had been, all that would not be again, and all
that remained . . . and it conferred on daily life an aura of
blessedness . . . all that remained took on a radiance." (A to Z of American Women Writers by Carol Kort, Rev. ed. 2007, p. 110)
This personal disaster had
an unexpected result: in June, she wrote thirteen poems over a period
of two weeks, including the much anthologized 'Mock Orange,' in
which she writes: "I hate sex / the man's mouth /
sealing my mouth, the man's / paralyzing body— / and the cry that
Twice divorced, failed marriages have occupied a central place
in such of Glück's books as Meadowlands (1996), Vita Nova (1999),
and The Seven Ages (2001). In 1967 Glück married Charles Hertz Jr.; they had one son. Her second
marriage was to John Dranow, a prose writer and vice president of the
New England Culinary Institute.
The Triumph of Achilles (1985), which was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award, drew from the Bible, classic myths, and fairy tales. Known for being reclusive and staying out of the media spotlight, it was not until the 1990s, when Glück poetry caught the attention of a wide reading public. Glück received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1993 for The Wild Iris (1992). Critics praised the beauty of her language, its simplicity and intensity. The literary critic Helen Vendler compared her to the poet Emily Dickinson. When she was named in October 2003 the US poet laureate, succeeding Billy Collins, she told the Associated Press that she preferred her audience small, intense, and passionate.
In addition to poetry, Glück has published essay collections. Proofs & Theories: Essays on Poetry (1994) won the PEN/Albrand Award for nonfiction. Her
second volume of essay, American Originality: Essays on Poetry,
appeared in 2017. "Fans of Glück’s own poems will recognize
her trademark severity. In her extreme focus and clipped,
uncompromising sentences, Glück recalls no one so much as Susan Sontag.
Like Sontag, Glück assumes her readers know the texts under
consideration – she often omits the customary quotations critics use to illustrate their points." ('Deep Dives Into How Poetry Works (and Why You Should Care)' by Craig Morgan Teicher, The New York Times, Aug. 4, 2017)
Glück has taught in several universities and colleges, first
in the 1970s at Goddard College in Vermont. At Williams College,
in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where she began teaching in
1984, she eventually became a senior lecturer. In 2004 she moved
to Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut. She lives now in
For further reading: We Begin in Gladness: How Poets Progress: Essays by Craig Morgan Teicher (2018); Women Versed in Myth: Essays on Modern Poets, edited by Colleen S. Harris and Valerie Estelle Frankel (2016); Poetic Memory: the Forgotten Self in Plath, Howe, Hinsey, and Glück by Uta Gosmann (2012); 'Louise Glück: the death of romanticism,' in History Matters: Contemporary Poetry on the Margins of American Culture by Ira Sadoff (2009); 'Glück, Louise' by 'K.D. [Kathleen D'Angelo], in World Authors 2000-2005, edited by Jennifer Curry, David Ramm, Mari Rich, and Albert Rolls (2007); Overheard Voices: Address and Subjectivity in Postmodern American Poetry by Ann Keniston (2006); The Poetry of Louise Glück: a Thematic Introduction by Daniel Morris (2006); Defensive Measures: the Poetry of Niedecker, Bishop, Glück, and Carson by Lee Upton (2005); On Louise Glück : Change What You See, edited by Joanne Feit Diehl (2005); Embodying Beauty: Twentieth-century American Women Writers' Aesthetics by Malin Pereira (2000); The Muse of Abandonment: Origin, Identity, Mastery, in Five American Poets by Lee Upton (1998) - Suomeksi Louise Glückin runoja on kääntänyt Anni Sumari teoksissa Merenvaahdon palatsi: Yhdysvaltalaista nykyrunoutta (2019) sekä Uskollinen ja hyveellinen yö (2020), alkuperäisteos Faithful and Virtuous Night. Kustantaja on ollut Aviador.