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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); 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)

The Myth of Innocence

Louise Glück, 1943
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—
everything in nature is in some way her relative.
I am never alone, she thinks,
turning the thought into a prayer.
Then death appears, like the answer to a prayer.

No one understands anymore
how beautiful he was. But Persephone remembers.
Also that he embraced her, right there,
with her uncle watching. She remembers
sunlight flashing on his bare arms.

This is the last moment she remembers clearly.
Then the dark god bore her away.

She also remembers, less clearly,
the chilling insight that from this moment
she couldn't live without him again.

The girl who disappears from the pool
will never return. A woman will return,
looking for the girl she was.

She stands by the pool saying, from time to time,
I was abducted, but it sounds
wrong to her, nothing like what she felt.
Then she says, I was not abducted.
Then she says, I offered myself, I wanted
to escape my body. Even, sometimes,
I willed this. But ignorance

cannot will knowledge. Ignorance
wills something imagined, which it believes exists.

All the different nouns—
she says them in rotation.
Death, husband, god, stranger.
Everything sounds so simple, so conventional.
I must have been, she thinks, a simple girl.

She can't remember herself as that person
but she keeps thinking the pool will remember
and explain to her the meaning of her prayer
so she can understand
whether it was answered or not.

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

"The Myth of Innocence" 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

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

poem
The great thing
is not having 
a mind. Feelings:
oh, I have those; they 
govern me. I have 
a lord in heaven 
called the sun, and open 
for him, showing him
the fire of my own heart, fire 
like his presence.
What could such glory be
if not a heart? Oh my brothers and sisters, 
were you like me once, long ago,
poem

 

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