Biography

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 716

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.

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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 position as artist-in-residence at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont, 1971-1972. She served as a faculty member at Goddard College, 1973-1974. In 1975, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship, and her second book, The House on Marshland, was published. Glück spent 1976-1977 as a visiting professor at the University of Iowa while also serving as a faculty member and member of the M.F.A. Writing Program board at Goddard College; this position lasted until 1980, the same year that her book Descending Figure was published. In 1977 Glück married her second husband, John Dranow, and then accepted a position as professor of poetry at the University of Cincinnati in the spring of 1978, with a visiting professorship at Columbia University in 1979.

In 1980, Glück began a four-year term as a faculty and board member of the M.F.A. program for writers at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. She received an award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and letters in 1981. In 1982 and 1983 respectively, Glück served as Holloway Lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley and as Scott Professor of Poetry at Williams College. From 1984 to 2004, Glück was senior lecturer in English at Williams.

In 1985, Glück received several awards from the National Book Critics Circle, The Boston Globe, and the Poetry Society of America for The Triumph of Achilles, her fourth book. She won the Sara Teasdale Memorial Prize from Wellesley College, her mother’s alma mater, in 1986. This was followed by another Guggenheim Fellowship, 1987-1988, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, 1988-1989.

In the same year that she was appointed Phi Beta Kappa Poet at Harvard University, 1990, Glück’s fifth book, Ararat, won the Bobbitt National Prize. This was followed by the Pulitzer Prize and the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America for her sixth book, The Wild Iris (1992). Her book of essays on poetry, Proofs and Theories (1994), won the Martha Albrand Award for nonfiction from PEN. Meadowlands was published in 1996, and Glück was appointed special consultant to the Library of Congress in 1999.

Having received the Bollingen Prize in 2001, a year after her former professor Stanley Kunitz received it, Glück went on to receive awards from Boston Book Review and The New Yorker for her book Vita Nova (1999). Her eleventh book of poems, The Seven Ages (2001), was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry. In 2003, she was appointed as the Library of Congress’s twelfth poet laureate consultant in poetry. In 2004, the year she published October, Glück became writer-in-residence at Yale University.

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