New Delhi, Oct 8 (IANS) Post years of controversy over the prestigious Nobel Prize for Literature, American poet Louise Gluck was on Thursday named for the honour for “her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal”.
Hailed for her technical precision, and focussing on loneliness, desire, rejection and trauma in her work, this 77-year-old poet, considered one of the most important contemporary poets, debuted with “Firstborn” in 1968 which was hailed for its technical control, and has to her credit 12 collections of poetry and several volumes of essays on poetry.
However, it was her poetry collection “The Triumph of Achilles” (1985) that received widespread acclaim from critics and readers alike.
As a teenager, Gluck, who has taught in several institutions, developed anorexia nervosa due to which she did not enrol in college as a full-time student.
Though Gluck’s early works highlight situations post failed love and broken families, the later ones are about the agony of the self.
The poet, who has received multiple fellowships from the National Endowment for Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, is presently an Adjunct Professor and Reosenkranz Writer in Residence at the Yale University in the US.
In 2004, Gluck, who from an early age received an education in Greek mythology from her parents, wrote a book-length poem titled “October” in response to the terrorist attacks of September 2001. Divided into six parts, the poem draws on ancient Greek myth to explore aspects of trauma and suffering.
A major reason for her popularity and relatability has been her ability to compose work in straightforward and uncomplicated language despite the fact that her verse sits in a dreamscape.
Critic Adam Plunkett, while reviewing her “Poems 1962-2012”, writes in the ‘New Republic’: “Very few writers share her talent for turning water into blood. But what emerges from this new comprehensive collection — spanning the entirety of her career — is a portrait of a poet who has issued forth a good deal of venom but is now writing, excellently, in a softer vein.”