Louise Gluck was born in 1943 in New York. She is divorced with one son. She started her teaching career in 1971 at Goddard College, Vermont. At present she is a Professor at Williams College and lives in Cambridge. She is the author of seven collections of poems and a volume of essays. She has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the William Carlos Williams Award, the Bobbitt National Poetry Prize, and the Ambassador's Award for her poetry, as well as the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Nonfiction. Vita Nova won the first annual New Yorker Readers Award. Louise Gluck has been appointed Poet Laureate in the USA.
In a collection as good as her Pulitzer Prize-winning The Wild Iris (1992), Gluck gives the Persephone myth a staggering new meaning, casting that forlorn daughter as a soul caught in "an argument between the mother and the lover." Taken from Demeter, her possessive earth-goddess mother, and raped, kidnapped and wed by Hades, Persephone now faces the insatiable demands of both. In 17 multi-part lyrics centered in her familiar quatrains, Gluck traces Persephone's arc from innocence to, unhappily, experience: "This is the light of autumn," she writes in "October," "not the light that says/ I am reborn." Two poems entitled "Persephone the Wanderer" flesh out her predicament ("What will you do/ when it is your turn in the field with the god?") and the self-deceiving responses ("you will forget everything:/ those fields of ice will be/ the meadows of Elysium") that drive the book. In between, scenes from a contemporary life (" `You girls,' my mother said, `should marry / someone like your father' ") parallel the unfolding myth, with Demeter coming to represent the body's desire to remain unchanged, or untouched, by love or death. That it turns out to be impossible is just another of the dilemmas brilliantly and unflinching dramatized in this icy, intense book. Empathic and unforgiving, the voice that unifies Persephone's despondent homelessness, Demeter's rageful mothering and Hades's smitten jealousy is unique in recent poetry, and reveals the flawed humanity of the divine. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
In the quietly assured voice one would expect of a Pulitzer Prize winner (for Wild Iris), Gluck refreshes the myth of Persephone. No fancy language here, just absolute precision--the world "bleached, like a negative; the light passed/ directly through it"--that captures contemporary anguish in an ancient and enduring frame. (LJ 12/05) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
'Gluck stands at the centre of time and speaks, not with raw emotion or linguistic abandon, but with the ageless urgency of questions about the soul.' - Partisan Review 'Her writing's emotional and rhetorical intensity are beyond dispute. Not once in six books has she wavered from a formal seriousness, an unhurried sense of control and a starkness of expression that, like a scalpel, slices the mist dwelling between hope and pain.' - Washington Post