Gluck, Louise

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GLUCK, LOUISE (1943– ), U.S. poet. Gluck was born in New York City to a father who never acted on his dream of being a writer and a mother who fought to attend Wellesley College before women's education was accepted. Honed by inner wounds from the death of an older sister, and by her battle with anorexia, years of psychoanalysis, and study with Stanley Kunitz, Gluck's poetic voice is lyrical yet reticent, cloaking the confessional in the classical. Her poetry explores the intimate drama of family tragedies resonating through the generations and the relationship between human beings and their creator. Although her poetry shows the strong influence of psychoanalysis and classical mythology, she also draws on Jewish tradition for mythic images and stories. Her works include an award-winning collection of essays on the theory and practice of poetry, Proofs & Theories (1994), as well as her many books of poetry, most notably, The House on Marshland (1975), Descending Figure (1980), Ararat (1990), and The Seven Ages (2001). In The Triumph of Achilles (1985), she creates her own midrashic interpretation of a story from the Midrash Rabbah and measures her immigrant grandfather's life against that of Joseph in Egypt. The Wild Iris (1992), an entire book in the voice of one of the Hebrew prophets translated to a modern sensibility, won the Pulitzer Prize. She writes with passion restrained by intelligence in a voice of controlled elegance, and luminous mystery. Although her use of myth and story to illuminate the individual heart and the archetypal family, as well as her recurrent attempts to understand God, have led some to call her work cryptic or harsh, she has received multiple awards for her poetry, and her critical recognition as one of America's finest poets resulted in her term as U.S. poet laureate in 2003.


F. Diehl (ed.), On Louise Gluck: Change What You See (2005).

[Linda Rodriguez (2nd ed.)]