among cinquefoil, as the toothed moon rises:
And the soul creeps out of the tree.
The recipient of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature, American poet Louise Glück “examines our compulsion to tell the same stories, again and again.” As Walt Hunter wrote in The Atlantic, “One of the most striking qualities about the poetry of Glück, is the way it returns to the start of things—a story, a myth, a day, a marriage, a childhood. The question How do we begin anew? runs throughout the poet’s work, from Firstborn (1968) to her most recent collection, Faithful and Virtuous Night (2014).”
Glück is the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize for writing poetry since the literature category was established in 1901. The author of 12 poetry collections and several essays, she has received numerous accolades for her work:
- The Triumph of Achilles (Ecco Press, 1985), The National Book Critics Circle Award—Winner, 1985
- Ararat (Ecco Press, 1990), The Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry—Winner, 1992
- The Wild Iris (Ecco Press, 1992), Pulitzer Prize—Winner, 1993
- Vita Nova (HarperCollins, 1999), Ambassador Book Award for Poetry—Winner, 2000
- Vita Nova (Ecco Press, 1999), Yale University’s Bollingen Prize in Poetry—Winner, 2001
- Averno (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006), PEN/Winship Award for Poetry—Winner, 2006
- Averno (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006), Ambassador Book Award for Poetry—Winner, 2007
- Faithful and Virtuous Night (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2014), The National Book Award in Poetry—Winner, 2014
She was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 1999, was appointed as the Library of Congress’s twelfth poet laureate in 2003, and in 2015 received the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama. Glück received the Nobel Prize for “her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal.” As Anders Olsson, Chairman of the Nobel Committee wrote, “In her poems, the self listens for what is left of its dreams and delusions, and nobody can be harder than she in confronting the illusions of the self. She seeks the universal, and in this she takes inspiration from myths and classical motifs, present in most of her works. The voices of Dido, Persephone and Eurydice–the abandoned, the punished, the betrayed–are masks for a self in transformation, as personal as it is universally valid.”
Glück was born in New York City in 1943 and was raised on Long Island. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University. She is a professor of English, Rosenkranz Writer-in-Residence, at Yale University, and currently resides in Cambridge, Mass.
Learn more about Louise Glück:
- Dictionary of Literary Biography’s Entry
Whitfill, Patrick. “Louise Glück (22 April 1943-).” Twenty-First-Century American Poets, Third Series, edited by John Cusatis, vol. 380, Gale, 2017, pp. 146-159. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 380. Gale Literature: Dictionary of Literary Biography, Accessed 16 Oct. 2020.
- Falvey Memorial Library’s collected works by Glück and about Glück
- Reviews of her works
- Colm Tóibín with Louise Glück: Clytemnestra Revisited Video (New York Public Library)
- A recent profile (The New Yorker)
- Further poetry resources (Falvey’s English subject guide)
Text by Kallie Stahl, Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library. Links curated by Sarah Wingo, MA, MSI, the Liaison Librarian for English Lit, Theatre, and Romance Languages.