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About this poet

Louise Glück was born in New York City on April 22, 1943, and grew up on Long Island. She is the author of numerous books of poetry, most recently, Faithful and Virtuous Night (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2014), which won the 2014 National Book Award in Poetry; Poems 1962-2012 (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2012); A Village Life: Poems (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2009); Averno (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2006), a finalist for the 2006 National Book Award in Poetry; The Seven Ages (Ecco Press, 2001); and Vita Nova (Ecco Press, 1999), winner of Boston Book Review's Bingham Poetry Prize and The New Yorker's Book Award in Poetry. In 2004, Sarabande Books released her six-part poem "October" as a chapbook.

Her other books include Meadowlands (Ecco Press, 1996); The Wild Iris (Ecco Press, 1992), which received the Pulitzer Prize and the Poetry Society of America's William Carlos Williams Award; Ararat (Ecco Press, 1990), for which she received the Library of Congress's Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry; and The Triumph of Achilles (Ecco Press, 1985), which received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Boston Globe Literary Press Award, and the Poetry Society of America's Melville Kane Award.

In a review in The New Republic, the critic Helen Vendler wrote: "Louise Glück is a poet of strong and haunting presence. Her poems, published in a series of memorable books over the last twenty years, have achieved the unusual distinction of being neither 'confessional' nor 'intellectual' in the usual senses of those words."

Glück has also published a collection of essays, Proofs and Theories: Essays on Poetry (Ecco Press, 1994), which won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Nonfiction. Her honors include the Bollingen Prize in Poetry, the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, a Sara Teasdale Memorial Prize, the MIT Anniversary Medal and fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, and from the National Endowment for the Arts.

In 1999, Glück was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. In the fall of 2003, she was appointed as the Library of Congress's twelfth poet laureate consultant in poetry. She served as judge of the Yale Series of Younger Poets from 2003 to 2010.

In 2008, Glück was selected to receive the Wallace Stevens Award for mastery in the art of poetry. Her collection, Poems 1962-2012, was awarded the 2013 Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

She is a writer-in-residence at Yale University.


Selected Bibiography

Poetry

Faithful and Virtuous Night (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014)
Poems: 1962-2012 (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2013)
A Village Life (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2009)
Averno (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2006)
The Seven Ages (Ecco Press, 2001)
Vita Nova (Ecco Press, 1999)
Meadowlands (Ecco Press, 1996)
The First Four Books of Poems (Ecco Press, 1995)
The Wild Iris (Ecco Press, 1992)
Ararat (Ecco Press, 1990)
The Triumph of Achilles (Ecco Press, 1985)
Descending Figure (Ecco Press, 1980)
The Garden (Antaeus, 1976)
The House on Marshland (Ecco Press, 1975)
Firstborn (New American Library, 1968)

 

A Myth of Devotion

Louise Glück, 1943

When Hades decided he loved this girl
he built for her a duplicate of earth,
everything the same, down to the meadow,
but with a bed added.

Everything the same, including sunlight,
because it would be hard on a young girl
to go so quickly from bright light to utter darkness

Gradually, he thought, he'd introduce the night,
first as the shadows of fluttering leaves.
Then moon, then stars. Then no moon, no stars.
Let Persephone get used to it slowly.
In the end, he thought, she'd find it comforting.

A replica of earth
except there was love here.
Doesn't everyone want love?

He waited many years,
building a world, watching
Persephone in the meadow.
Persephone, a smeller, a taster.
If you have one appetite, he thought,
you have them all.

Doesn't everyone want to feel in the night
the beloved body, compass, polestar,
to hear the quiet breathing that says
I am alive, that means also
you are alive, because you hear me,
you are here with me. And when one turns,
the other turns—

That's what he felt, the lord of darkness,
looking at the world he had
constructed for Persephone. It never crossed his mind
that there'd be no more smelling here,
certainly no more eating.

Guilt? Terror? The fear of love?
These things he couldn't imagine;
no lover ever imagines them.

He dreams, he wonders what to call this place.
First he thinks: The New Hell. Then: The Garden.
In the end, he decides to name it
Persephone's Girlhood.

A soft light rising above the level meadow,
behind the bed. He takes her in his arms.
He wants to say I love you, nothing can hurt you

but he thinks
this is a lie, so he says in the end
you're dead, nothing can hurt you
which seems to him
a more promising beginning, more true.

"A Myth of Devotion" from Averno by Louise Glück. Copyright © 2006 by Louise Glück. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

"A Myth of Devotion" from Averno by Louise Glück. Copyright © 2006 by Louise Glück. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

Louise Glück

Louise Glück

The author of numerous collections of poetry, Louise Glück is the recipient of many awards and served as a Chancellor for the Academy of American Poets and the Library of Congress's poet laureate consultant in poetry.

by this poet

poem
In your extended absence, you permit me 
use of earth, anticipating
some return on investment. I must report 
failure in my assignment, principally 
regarding the tomato plants.
I think I should not be encouraged to grow 
tomatoes. Or, if I am, you should withhold 
the heavy rains, the cold nights that come 
so
poem

 

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poem
One summer she goes into the field as usual
stopping for a bit at the pool where she often
looks at herself, to see
if she detects any changes. She sees
the same person, the horrible mantle
of daughterliness still clinging to her.

The sun seems, in the water, very close.
That's my uncle spying again, she thinks