Louise Glück Analysis

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

How would you describe the voices of the speakers in Louise Glück’s poems? In what tones do you imagine them speaking?

In Glück’s poems featuring children, how does she avoid the sentimentality that is so often associated with portrayals of children?

What words would you use to describe the romantic relationships in Glück’s poems? How do they compare to conventional images and descriptions of romantic love?

What characteristics of parables do Glück’s parable poems have? How do they differ from classical parables?

How does Glück uses images from nature to relate to human nature?

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

ph_0111226236-Gluck.jpg Louise Glück Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Although known primarily for her poetry, Louise Glück (glihk) occasionally publishes essays about her work and about other poets. Of most interest is “The Dreamer and the Watcher,” published in Singular Voices: American Poetry Today (1985, edited by Stephen Berg), in which Glück writes quite personally about her poem “Night Song” and about her writing process. Discussing T. S. Eliot in a piece in Southern Review titled “Fear and the Absent ’Other,’” Glück further identifies her literary affinities. Proofs and Theories: Essays on Poetry (1994) collects her thoughts on the writing of poetry.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

With each book of poetry, Louise Glück has deepened her range and her vision, and recognition of her work has gained over time. Among her awards are Columbia University’s Academy of American Poets’ Prize (1967), a Rockefeller Foundation grant (1968), a National Endowment for the Arts grant (1969-1970), the Eunice Tietjens Memorial Award (1971), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1975-1976), and an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1981). Upon publication of her fourth book, The Triumph of Achilles, Glück received the Poetry Society of America’s Melville Cane Award (1986), the National Book Critics Circle Award (1985), and the Boston Globe Literary Press Award for poetry. Ararat, her fifth book of poems, won the Bobbitt National Prize (1992). She won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize (1993) and the William Carlos Williams Award (1992) for her collection The Wild Iris. From 1994 to 1998, she served as poet laureate of Vermont. She became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1996 and served as chancellor of the Academy of American Poets (1999-2005). Glück, along with Rita Dove and W. S. Merwin, served as a special bicentennial consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress (1999-2000) and also served as poet laureate consultant in poetry (2003-2004). Vita Nova won the Bingham Poetry Prize and The New Yorker’s Book Award in Poetry. Her essay collection Proofs and Theories received the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Nonfiction. Additional honors for her poetry include the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry (1999), the Bollingen Prize (2001), the Massachusetts Book Award in poetry (2007), and the Wallace Stevens Award (2008).


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Bedient, Calvin. “Four American Poets.” Sewanee Review 84 (Winter, 1976): 351-364. Bedient primarily reviews Glück’s second book, The House on Marshland, though he discusses Firstborn (her first book) in passing, long enough to say that its poems “are brilliant but lack resonance.” He identifies Glück’s subject in the second book as “a romantic nostalgia for the absolute.” He calls Glück’s new poems “consummate.”

Boruch, Marianne. “Comment: The Feel of a Century.” The American Poetry Review 19 (July, 1990): 17-19. Reviewing Ararat, Glück’s fifth book of poems, Boruch acknowledges that readers accustomed to Glück’s earlier work might be surprised by the new poems. Boruch calls the change “both blinding and subtle.” Glück’s intention, in poems that are often vignettes of childhood experience, is clearly different. Her focus is death, solitude, and “the austerity of things.”

Diggory, Terence. “Louise Glück’s Lyric Journey.” Salmagundi 124/125 (Fall, 1999): 303-318. An extensive review of Vita Nova emphasizes Glück’s explorations of the lyric form.

Dobyns, Stephen. “Will You Listen for a Minute?” The New York Times Book Review 95 (September 2, 1990): 5. In his review of Ararat, Dobyns calls Glück’s...

(The entire section is 531 words.)