Congratulations to our friend, Louise Glück, on her Nobel Prize
NYS Summer Writers Institute "Regular" Wins Nobel Prize in Literature
"... for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal"
The Nobel Prize committee
What a wonderful Poetry Friday, as we join in offering congratulations to our friend, poet Louise Glück, on winning the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Louise was a regular participant the New York State Summer Writers Institute at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, participating in nearly every one of its 34 summer sessions! She also received an honorary degree from Skidmore College in 1995.
She was scheduled to come again in Summer 2020 before the program was cancelled due to the pandemic.
The Summer Institute was founded in 1987 as a partnership between Skidmore College and the New York State Writers Institute at the University at Albany. A brainchild of Skidmore English Professor Robert Boyers and Writers Institute founder William Kennedy, the program features a month-long series of creative writing courses in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, translation, and editing.
Louise Glück has now won the Nobel Prize, a Pulitzer Prize, and the National Book Award for her poetry, which has appeared in many volumes including Meadowlands, Descending Figure, Vita Nova, The Wild Iris, Firstborn, Ararat, and Poems 1962-2012. In recent years she has taught at Yale and at the MFA programs at Boston University and Stanford. Her most recent collections are Faithful and Virtuous Night.
The last American woman to win the Nobel Prize was Toni Morrison, who received the honor in 1993 when she was a professor at the University at Albany.
In a review of Glück's collected poems in The Nation in 2012, Bob Boyers said:
"[Glück] has been not only a resourceful and versatile poet but also an astonishingly brave one. Brave in what sense? In the way she has steadily enlarged her range and idiom, working, to be sure, within the compass of her own nature, but ever testing the limits of her gift, so that the impression made by the work as a whole is not of limitation but of an overwhelming fullness of invention and abundance of life. Glück’s poems at their best have always moved between recoil and affirmation, sensuous immediacy and reflection. She has found ways to engage with the world as it is without capitulating to its felt demand that she renounce any alternative sense of what is real.
For a poet who can often seem earthbound and defiantly unillusioned, she has been powerfully responsive to the lure of the daily miracle and the sudden upsurge of overmastering emotion." Read more
New York Times book critic Dwight Garner was a featured guest at our Albany Book Festival in September, wrote an appreciation of Louise Glück in yesterday's newspaper:
"In a 2009 interview, she said: 'When I’m told I have a large readership, I think, ‘Oh great, I’m going to turn out to be Longfellow’: someone easy to understand, easy to like, the kind of diluted experience available to many. And I don’t want to be Longfellow. Sorry, Henry, but I don’t. To the degree that I apprehend acclaim, I think, ‘Ah, it’s a flaw in the work.’
Glück — her surname rhymes with “click,” not “cluck” — is not the new Longfellow. Yet it’s part of her greatness that her poems are relatively easy of access while impossible to utterly get to the bottom of. They have echoing meanings; you can tangle with them for a very long time."
I have argued, in these pages, that her 1990 book, “Ararat,” is the most brutal and sorrow-filled book of poetry published in the last 30 years. (It’s contained in her collection “Poems: 1962-2012.”) It’s confessional and a bit wild, I wrote, comparing it to Bob Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks.”
One of the things to love about Glück’s poetry is that, while her work contains many emotional registers, she is not afraid to be cruel — she confronts the monsters in herself, and in others, not with resignation and therapeutic digression but with artery-nicking knives. Read more.
Poems by Louise Glück on the website of Poets.org: poets.org/poems/louise-gluck
The Nobel Prize website: www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/2020/gluck/facts/