American poet Louise Gluck wins 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature
08 October 2020
The 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to American poet Louise Gluck "for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal," the Swedish Academy stated in a release today.
Louise Gluck was born 1943 in New York and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is a professor of English at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
She made her poetic debut in 1968 with `Firstborn’, and was soon acclaimed as one of the most prominent poets in American contemporary literature. She has received several prestigious awards, among them the Pulitzer Prize (1993) and the National Book Award (2014).
Louise Gluck has published twelve collections of poetry and some volumes of essays on poetry. Her writings are characterised by a striving for clarity. Family and relationship has been the pet theme in her poems.
“Gluck seeks the universal, and in this she takes inspiration from myths and classical motifs, present in most of her works. The voices of Dido, Persephone and Eurydice – the abandoned, the punished, the betrayed – are masks for a self in transformation, as personal as it is universally valid,” the Academy stated in its release.
With collections like The Triumph of Achilles (1985) and Ararat (1990) Gluck found a growing audience in USA and abroad.
Gluck has successfully used ordinary diction in her poetry, even as the deceptively natural tone brought out brutally straightforward images of painful family relations
A poet, who is unwillingness to accept simple tenets of faith, Louise Glück resembles more than any other poet, Emily Dickinson. She is not only engaged by the errancies and shifting conditions of life, she is also a poet of radical change and rebirth. In the Wild Iris (1992), for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, she describes the miraculous return of life after winter in the poem `Snowdrops’:
“I did not expect to survive, earth suppressing me. I didn’t expect to waken again, to feel in damp earth my body able to respond again, remembering after so long how to open again in the cold light of earliest spring – afraid, yes, but among you again crying yes risk joy in the raw wind of the new world.”
It should also be added that the decisive moment of change is often marked by humour and biting wit. The collection Vita Nova (1999) concludes with the lines: “I thought my life was over and my heart was broken. / Then I moved to Cambridge.” The title alludes to Dante’s classic La Vita Nuova, celebrating the new life in the guise of his muse Beatrice. Celebrated in Gluck is rather the loss of a love that has disintegrated, the Academy points out.