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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)

Persephone the Wanderer

Louise Glück, 1943
In the first version, Persephone
is taken from her mother
and the goddess of the earth
punishes the earth—this is
consistent with what we know of human behavior,

that human beings take profound satisfaction
in doing harm, particularly
unconscious harm:

we may call this
negative creation.

Persephone's initial
sojourn in hell continues to be
pawed over by scholars who dispute
the sensations of the virgin:

did she cooperate in her rape,
or was she drugged, violated against her will,
as happens so often now to modern girls.

As is well known, the return of the beloved
does not correct
the loss of the beloved: Persephone

returns home
stained with red juice like
a character in Hawthorne—

I am not certain I will
keep this word: is earth
"home" to Persephone? Is she at home, conceivably,
in the bed of the god? Is she
at home nowhere? Is she
a born wanderer, in other words
an existential
replica of her own mother, less
hamstrung by ideas of causality?

You are allowed to like
no one, you know. The characters
are not people.
They are aspects of a dilemma or conflict.

Three parts: just as the soul is divided,
ego, superego, id. Likewise

the three levels of the known world,
a kind of diagram that separates
heaven from earth from hell.

You must ask yourself:
where is it snowing?

White of forgetfulness,
of desecration—

It is snowing on earth; the cold wind says

Persephone is having sex in hell.
Unlike the rest of us, she doesn't know
what winter is, only that
she is what causes it.

She is lying in the bed of Hades.
What is in her mind?
Is she afraid? Has something
blotted out the idea
of mind?

She does know the earth
is run by mothers, this much
is certain. She also knows
she is not what is called
a girl any longer. Regarding
incarceration, she believes

she has been a prisoner since she has been a daughter.

The terrible reunions in store for her
will take up the rest of her life.
When the passion for expiation
is chronic, fierce, you do not choose
the way you live. You do not live;
you are not allowed to die.

You drift between earth and death
which seem, finally,
strangely alike. Scholars tell us

that there is no point in knowing what you want
when the forces contending over you
could kill you.

White of forgetfulness,
white of safety—

They say
there is a rift in the human soul
which was not constructed to belong
entirely to life. Earth

asks us to deny this rift, a threat
disguised as suggestion—
as we have seen
in the tale of Persephone
which should be read

as an argument between the mother and the lover—
the daughter is just meat.

When death confronts her, she has never seen
the meadow without the daisies.
Suddenly she is no longer
singing her maidenly songs
about her mother's
beauty and fecundity. Where
the rift is, the break is.

Song of the earth,
song of the mythic vision of eternal life—

My soul
shattered with the strain
of trying to belong to earth—

What will you do,
when it is your turn in the field with the god?

"Persephone the Wanderer" from Averno by Louise Glück. Copyright © 2006 by Louise Glück. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

"Persephone the Wanderer" 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.

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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

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