Born in New York City on April 22, 1943, Louise Glück is the daughter of Daniel and Beatrice Glück. Their first daughter died before Louise was born, an event that would affect the poet profoundly and has influenced the themes of loss and grief in her works. Another daughter was born after Louise’s birth.
Glück had a solid knowledge of the Greek myths by the age of three. Her father, who wanted to be a writer but eventually decided to go into business with his brother-in-law, and her mother, who admired creative gifts and appreciated the arts, encouraged Glück and her sister to develop any inclinations or talents they had in such areas.
As an adolescent Glück developed anorexia nervosa, a condition she has described as a manifestation of the ravenous need for control and an independent self as well as a hunger for praise. Her anorexia eventually became so severe that she withdrew from high school in her last year to begin psychoanalytic sessions, which would last seven years.
Having graduated from Long Island’s Hewlett High School in 1961 and attended Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York, in 1962, Glück studied at Columbia University during 1963-1966 and 1967-1968. She enrolled in a poetry workshop where poet and teacher Stanley Kunitz significantly influenced her. In 1966 Glück won the Academy of American Poets Prize, and in 1967, the same year that she married Charles Hertz, Jr., a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship. In 1968 Glück’s first book, Firstborn, was published, followed by her receipt of a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1969.
In 1970, Glück was a visiting teacher at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. This was followed by a...
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Known for her precision of language in declarative sentences rather than description, Glück has shown that poetry need not have its own vocabulary to be poetry. Her poems are not designed to call attention to words but to images, statements, and questions about the motivations of humans and why they keep performing certain rituals, no matter what the potential loss, perhaps because that is what makes them human. Through continual experimentation and practice of her craft, Glück has achieved a transparence in her poetry that lets the truth shine through.
Louise Elisabeth Glück was born on April 22, 1943, in New York City, to a Wellesley-educated mother and a father who was a first-generation American businessman of Hungarian descent. The firstborn daughter of this family, who died before Glück’s birth, is the acknowledged source of the poet’s preoccupation with death, grieving, and loss, which are frequent themes in her work. As a teenager, Glück struggled with anorexia nervosa, another experience that later was a theme in her poetry. She later worked with poet Stanley Kunitz, who became a major influence on her life as a poet. Glück attended Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, and Columbia University in New York City. She married Charles Hertz, Jr., in 1967, and they had one child, Noah Benjamin. Hertz and Glück later divorced, and she married John Dranow in 1977, a writer and vice president of the New England Culinary Institute.
Since 1970, she has taught at numerous colleges and universities. Although Glück has indicated that she was somewhat hesitant about teaching, she later embraced it as a means of surviving the extended silences she endured when it seemed impossible to write poetry. She has served as a poetry panelist or poetry reader at conferences and foundations, including Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation and PEN Southwest Conference; she has also judged numerous poetry contests such as the Discovery Contest. Glück began a long-time association with Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, in the fall of 1983, when she served as Scott Professor of Poetry. She joined the college faculty in the fall of 1984 and later was named Preston S. Parish ’41 Third Century Lecturer in English (1998-2004). In the fall of 2004, she became adjunct professor of English and Rosenkranz Writer in Residence at Yale University.