Born In: New York, United States
The winner of 2020 Nobel Prize in literature, Louise Elisabeth Gluck is an American poet and essayist. From an early age, her interest in the written word was nurtured by her parents who also introduced her to the ancient Greek classics. Ancient Greek myths continued to feature prominently in her writings. While still in High School, Louise Gluck had started writing poetry and submitting them to publishers. Her teenage years were difficult ones where she struggled with anorexia nervosa. The ensuing psychoanalysis for treating this disorder fuelled her creativity in her later years. Louise Gluck did not attend regular college, choosing instead to attend workshops and night classes. Her first book received critical acclaim and she was offered many teaching jobs. At that time Gluck believed that teaching would hamper her writing and turned down the job offers. It was only when she faced writer’s block and almost gave up on writing that she took up a teaching job. To her surprise, teaching liberated her and she started composing poetry again. Throughout her life, Louise Gluck has held teaching positions in various universities. Gluck’s writing style is direct and colloquial. Her poetry talks of death, suffering, pain as well as renewal and healing. Scholars have often found influences of Emily Dickinson and Rainer Maria Rilke in her works.
Also Known As: Louise Elisabeth Glück
Spouse/Ex-: John Dranow (m. 1977 – 1996)
father: Daniel Gluck
mother: Beatrice Gluck
children: Noah Dranow
Born Country: United States
U.S. State: New Yorkers
education: George W. Hewlett High School, Sarah Lawrence College
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Louise Gluck was born on April 22, 1943, in New York to Daniel Gluck and Beatrice Gluck. She grew up in Long Island.
Gluck’s paternal grandparents were Hungarian Jews who immigrated to the United States in December 1900. Gluck’s father had aspired to be a writer but eventually became a businessman. He and his brother-in-law became successful as the creator of X-Acto knife.
Louise Gluck was initiated into the literary arts at an early age. She learnt about Greek mythology and classics from her mother who was a graduate of Wellesley college with a major in French.
She finished her high school at George W. Hewlett High School. During these years she suffered from anorexia nervosa and began treatment during her senior year in High School.
Due to her psychological state, Gluck decided not to enroll as a full-time student in college. She took special poetry classes at Sarah Lawrence College.
From 1963 to 1966, she attended workshops at the Columbia University. Here she got to study under Leonie Adams and Stanley Kunitz who left a lasting impression on her and helped her develop as a poet.
Louise Gluck started writing poetry while attending the workshops at Columbia University. Her poems got published in Mademoiselle, The New Yorker, Poetry, The Atlantic Monthly and The Nation.
Louise Gluck published her first book titled Firstborn in 1968. The book had mixed reactions from the critics as some of them found the tone of the poems disturbing.
Recalling her experience after writing her first book Gluck says that she sat at her desk at Provincetown intending to spend her days writing poetry. At that point, she believed that poets do not work. However, she found that she was unable to write.
In 1971, she started teaching at Goddard College in Vermont. The moment she started teaching poetry at the college, Gluck says that she found that she could start writing again.
In 1975, The House on Marshland was published which was a collection of poems she wrote while teaching at Vermont. Hailed as the book that brought out her unique voice as a poet, the poems in this book had personas such as Joan of Arc and Gretel.
Louise Gluck’s collection, Descending Figure, published in 1980, was called “one of the year's outstanding books” by critics. The book is marked by her innovative use of different perspectives.
In 1984, Louise Gluck joined Williams College, Massachusetts as Senior Lecturer. While at the college, she started writing another set of poems which came out in 1990 in a collection called Ararat. The New York Times called it the “most brutal and sorrow filled-book of American poetry” in 25 years.
The 1990s were the most fertile period for the poet Gluck. Proofs & Theories: Essays on Poetry was published in 1994, which was followed by Meadowlands in 1996, Vita Nova in 1999 and The Seven Ages in 2001.
The trauma of the 9/11 attacks moved Louise Gluck to write a chapbook titled October. Published in 2004, in this book she draws on Greek mythology and explores the feelings of anguish and pain.
In 2004, Louise Gluck joined Yale University as the Rosenkranz Writer in Residence. Among the works that she published during her time there are Averno in 2006, A Village Life in 2009, and Faithful and Virtuous Night in 2014.
In 2017 Gluck published a book of essays called American Originality. She continues to be the writer-in-residence at Yale University.
In 1993, Louise Gluck’s work, The Wild Iris, a collection of poems where garden flowers are in conversation with the gardener, won the Pulitzer Prize.
In 2003, the Library of Congress named her to serve as the US poet Laureate for one year.
In 2014, Gluck received the prestigious National Book Award for Poetry for her book Faithful and Virtuous Night.
In 2020, recognizing Louise Gluck’s “unmistakable poetic voice”, the Nobel committee gave her the Nobel Prize for literature.
Louise Gluck had an elder sister who died before her birth. In some of her works, Louise has said that her psychological condition was related to the death of her elder sister.
Gluck married Charles Hertz Jr. in 1967. They had a son Noah in 1973 but the marriage ended in a divorce.
In 1977 Gluck and author John Dranow got married. The summer writing program at Vermont had been started by Dranow. The couple was also involved in the founding of The New England Culinary Institute. They divorced in 1990 which also had an impact on their business partnership.
Gluck’s younger sister who passed away in 2018 was a successful banker who rose to the position of Vice President in Citibank. She was also a writer whose work of fiction May You Live in Interesting Times won the Iowa Short Fiction Award in 1995.
Louise Gluck’s niece and Tereze’s daughter is actress and sound editor, Abigail Savage.
Louise Gluck currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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