Louise Glück became the 16th woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature on 8th September this year. As William Logan had said she is “perhaps the most popular literary poet in America.”
Her “her unmistakable poetic voice, that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal” according to Swedish Academy, which oversees the Nobel award.
She is a poet practicing majorly lyric poetry and also is an essayist. She has been awarded many other literary laurels over the past few years.
The award that was announced through a press conference from Stockholm iterated that she was chosen for the prestigious award as her work, “with austere beauty makes individual existence universal.”
When the academy called her for her award, she was shocked.
She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for her collection of poems, ‘The wild Iris’. She was named the United States’ poet laureate in 2003.
She also won the U.S. National Book Award for her collection “Faithful and Virtuous Night” in 2014.
Life of Louise Glück
Louise Glück was born in New York City in 1993. Growing up on the long island, she was exposed to a plethora of Greek mythology which would be her bedtime stories.
Her fascination with mythology is reflected in their seamless suture in her poetry. She has always aspired to be a writer.
Her first poems were put together when she was just a five-year-old baby. Her battle with anorexia strengthened her as a poet.
She published her first poems in 1968 titled ‘Firstborn’. She studied at Columbia University. She later went on to become a professor of English at Yale. During her writer’s block, it was her students who inspired her to start writing again.
Her debut work in 1968, Firstborn catapulted her to critical acclaim and she went on to become one of America’s most noted contemporary literary figures.
Louise Glück’s work
In the words of Daniel Mendelsohn, the editor at large for The New York Review of Books:“When you read her poems about these difficult things, you feel cleansed rather than depressed.
“This is one of the purest poetic sensibilities in world literature right now. It’s a kind of absolute poetry, poetry with no gimmicks, no pandering to fads or trends. It has the quality of something standing almost as outside of time.
Poet Dan Chiasson wrote “Her poems are flash bulletins from her inner life, a region that she examines unsparingly”.
In her poems, “love, loss, desire, and beauty wear the specific dress of her own life while turning the everyday into something mythical,” said Erika McAlpine associate professor of English at Britain’s Oxford University.
Glück regards pain as a source of learning. She normalizes the occurrence of misfortunes in our lives in an attempt to show how pain can teach a man to grow in many ways.
Jonathan Galassi, president of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, “Like many great poets, she is always reforming herself. Once she finished something, it’s sort of dead to her, and she has to start over again.”
Her poems have evolved in its theme over the years. She has reflected upon the daily ethos of life through her pieces. Her themes have divulged what it means to be human in our times.
She said in an interview with The New York Times: “I think you have always to be surprised and to be in a way a beginner again. Otherwise, I would bore myself to tears.”
On asked what she would recommend to a new reader of her poem, she says there are no such recommendations but she would like the more recent works better than the old ones.
In that context, you can start by reading “Averno”, her 2006 collection. The myth of Persephone is weaved together with the relationship of a mother and daughter in the collection.
“Winter Recipes From the Collective,” is her new ready to be published poem that will be released next year. It deals with the themes of aging and mortality.
Pandemic and the Nobel Prize
The pompous Nobel Prize distributing ceremony this year was replaced with a televised program where winners will be seen receiving their prizes in their home town.
On asking her about her feeling regarding the huge respect she received, she was quite shy to comment. Her witty reply however had a dash of humor. “My first thought was I won’t have any friends because most of my friends are writers,” she said.
She also said, “It’s too new, you know. I don’t know really what it means. It is a great honor…I think practically I wanted to buy another house in Vermont. I have a condo in Cambridge and I thought wow I can buy a house. But mostly I am concerned about the preservation of daily life with people I love…it is disrupted.”
We wish her all the very best for her upcoming works and hope she continues to reflect on the deeper meanings of life like she has been doing through her crisp verses.
“She writes oneiric, narrative poetry recalling memories and travels, only to hesitate and pause for new insights. The world is disenthralled, only to become magically present once again,” Chairperson of the Nobel Committee, Anders Olsson wrote in a statement.