Must Read Books By 2020 Nobel Prize For Literature Winner Louise Glück

Must read books by Louise Gluck

Louise Glück has won the 2020 Nobel Prize for literature. Her mastery at laying bare the inner life of the individual is very well known. Here’s a list of four collections that give a glimpse of Glück’s poetic genius:

The House on Marshland

The House on Marshland published in 1975 was Louise Glück’s second book of poetry. This book came seven years after her debut volume, Firstborn. It is considered to be the one that announced the arrival of a powerful new voice in American poetry. One of the poems in the collection, Gretel In Darkness, drew both censure and acclaim for its exploration of the theme of familial and cultural trauma. The poem is told from the perspective of Gretel, one of the protagonists from the Grimm Brothers’ fairytale.

Wild Iris

Louise Glück book

Time and mortality yoke this collection of 54 poems published in 1992. This is the book that won Glück the Pulitzer Prize in 1993. Written in three segments, Wild Iris speaks in the voices of the flowers, the gardener, and an omniscient god figure. In each segment, Glück creates a cyclical world, much like the seasons, seeking answers to spiritual and intellectual questions.

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It is this collection in which she reworks ancient Greek and Roman mythologies to explore themes of old age, grief, and, of course, her forte — familial relationships and the dissolution of emotional bonds. In Averno, Glück takes up the story of Persephone, daughter of Zeus, king of gods, and Demeter, goddess of earth, who was abducted by Hades, the ruler of the underworld. Even though the poet tells the story from various perspectives, she insists it “should be read / as an argument between the mother and the lover”. The 18 poems in the collection are thematically linked and form a rich tapestry of voices of figures that recur in the Greek myth.

Faithful and Virtuous Night

Louise Glück book

In her essay ‘Disruption, Hesitation, Silence’ (1994, Proofs and Theories), Glück writes: “I do not think that more information always makes a richer poem. I am attracted to ellipsis, to the unsaid, to suggestion, to eloquent, deliberate silence. The unsaid, for me, exerts great power: often I wish an entire poem could be made in this vocabulary.” Among her remarkable experiments with form, Faithful and Virtuous Night (2014) is also notable for the power of suggestion that hangs heavy over the collection. As she writes in Afterword, a poem from the collection, “Reading what I have just written, I now believe/ I stopped precipitously so that my story seems to have been/ slightly distorted, ending, as it did, not abruptly/ but in a kind of artificial mist of the sort/ sprayed onto stages to allow for difficult set changes”. The book won the National Book Award for Poetry in the US the same year.

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