Louise Gluck Death

Poet and Nobel Prize Winner Louise Glück Passes Away at Age 80

Louise Glück, the former US Poet Laureate and the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Poetry in 2020, has passed away at the age of 80. Her deceptively straightforward poems conveyed profound truths about love, sorrow, and perseverance. Louise Glück’s poetry expresses our wariness of the world around us while also highlighting our insatiable want for understanding and community.

A statement from Glück’s editor and chairman at Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Jonathan Galassi, was issued to CNN on Friday afternoon. After receiving the National Book Award for Poetry in 2014 for her collection “Faithful and Virtuous Night” and the National Humanities Medal  from then-President Barack Obama in 2015, Glück can be considered one of the most decorated American poets of her era.

The Nobel Prize committee that awarded her the prize said that her writing “makes individual existence universal,” a common compliment. Jonathan Galassi, executive editor and chairwoman of Farrar, Straus & Giroux and Glück’s longtime editor, told CNN, “Louise Gluck’s poetry gives voice to our untrusting but unstillable need for knowledge and connection in an often unreliable world.”

A phrase I often hear about her is, “Her work is immortal.” Born in 1943 in the Big Apple, Glück spent his formative years on Long Island. Her father, a Jewish immigrant who co-founded the cutting tools empire X-Acto, encouraged Glück and her siblings to follow their creative passions, write stories, and take classes in music, drama, and dance.

Louise Gluck Death

Glück described art as a “noble calling” in her Nobel biography. When she was 16, she sent her first manuscript to a publishing house. Glück’s teenage writing, which was never published in full, did make an appearance in her later writings, “reconstituted slightly,” as stated in her Nobel biography.

During Glück’s final year of high school, she was taken away for treatment of an eating issue. After receiving therapy for approximately a year, she returned to her home of New York to attend poetry classes at Columbia University. She finished her first poetry collection, 1968’s “Firstborn,” when she was 23 years old, but then she hit a period of acute writer’s block that she referred to as the “long silence.”

Through her late 20s, she kept her quiet until she was invited to teach at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont, when interest in her early work was rekindled amid a period of “new curiosity about women poets.” She referred to her new job as a “miracle,” saying that it had motivated her to start writing again.

“I felt a duty to my own poems,” the poet writes. In an appearance on an episode of the show “Poetvision” from 1988, she remarked, “I felt that same obligation for the work of others, which meant that I could be working even when I had no work of my own.” She had Noah at age 30 while she was at the peak of her career. As a new mother, Glück set out to write about more than just love and loss in her work.

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She did this by drawing inspiration from her surroundings, the classics (such as 1985’s “The Triumph of Achilles”), and her own life, including motherhood, the end of her second marriage (1999’s “Vita Nova”), and the death of her sister.

However, much like the books that captivated her as a young girl, her most famous poems were written with the intention of being intimate exchanges between the poet and the reader. In her acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in 2020, she said, “I liked the sense that what the poem spoke was essential and also private, the message received by the priest or the analyst.”

Her poetry is frequently straightforward and simple. Poems by Glück invite readers to take part in the conversation. She explored themes of transition, loss, and perseverance in her writing. This latter idea was the driving force behind “Winter Recipes From the Collective,” a collection of recipes published in 2022.

Much of the collection was composed in the summer of 2020, when the Covid-19 epidemic was at its height. In the 2022 collection’s sad poem “Song,” a figure named Leo Cruz motivates Glück to fantasize about a future when art is more than just a means of existence.

We make plans

to walk the trails together.

When, I ask him,

when? Never again:

that is what we do not say.

He is teaching me

to live in imagination:

a cold wind

blows as I cross the desert;

I can see his house in the distance;

smoke is coming from the chimney

That is the kiln, I think;

only Leo makes porcelain in the desert

Ah, he says, you are dreaming again

And I say then I’m glad I dream

the fire is still alive”

“Yes, the world is falling apart,” she said in a 2022 interview with the Nation’s Sam Huber. “But here we all are, we’re still alive. And a sense of possibility emerges from that fact, from anything — just that stubborn human need to hope.”

In her later years, Glück taught poetry at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and at Stanford University’s creative writing department, and she continued to compose and lecture until the end of her life. In her acceptance speech, she acknowledged that winning the Nobel Prize for Literature caused her to “panic,” but it also led her to give up part of the power she believed she had over her writing.

And while she worried that all the fresh interest would make it tough to sit down and write, it really ended up being quite the opposite.

“Except when it is insanely easy, writing remains elusive,” she wrote in 2020. “Always I am someone longing to be a poet, to make something never heard before, to be taken out of myself. That it happened at all is a wonder.”

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