Louise Elisabeth Glück (glihk) is an American poet whose first book, published when she was only twenty-five, foreshadowed a career that has earned many of the most prestigious national grants and awards. Daughter of Beatrice and Daniel Glück, an executive, she attended Sarah Lawrence College in 1962 and Columbia University from 1963 to 1965. She has been married and divorced twice, first to Charles Hertz, Jr., with whom she had a son, and then to John Dranow, a prose writer and teacher.
Before her first book came out, she had won Columbia University’s Academy of American Poets Prize. She has since been awarded many prizes and fellowships, including National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim grants and fellowships; among her many awards, The Triumph of Achilles won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, The Wild Iris won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, and she was awarded the Böllingen Prize by Yale University in 2001. She has been much in demand as a teacher and poet-in-residence at universities such as University of North Carolina, Greensboro; Columbia; University of California at Davis, Los Angeles, and Berkeley; Harvard; Brandeis; Williams College; Goddard College; and many others.
Firstborn, Glück’s initial collection of poetry, included lyrics that had appeared in national magazines such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and Poetry. Critics praised her lyric gifts, particularly her infallible ear for language. Although the book contains one sonnet, most of her patterns are free and shifting. Scattered internal rhymes throughout a poem and poems ending with a rhymed couplet are hallmarks of her style. Yet for all her early technical brilliance, the world depicted in Firstborn is brutal and maimed, and the overall voice is angry and thwarted. Some critics associated the collection with the predominant mood of the United States in 1968, which was embroiled in a controversial war in Southeast Asia and attempting to recover from political assassinations at home. Yet the book is more personal than political, with overtones of the confessional style that gained popularity in the 1950’s.
Glück did not publish another collection for seven years. The...
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