English Professor and well-known writer, Louise Glück was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature on October 8. The announcement was made at a news conference in Stockholm where Glück was praised for her “unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal,” by the Royal Swedish National Academy.
Pulitzer Prize winner for her 1993 book, The Wild Iris, Glück published her first collection of poems in 1968 titled Firstborn. She also holds the title of the 2003 U.S. Poet Laureate and won the 2001 Yale Bollingen Prize, the 2014 National Book Award, the 2015 Gold Medal of Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the 2016 National Humanities Medal.
In literature, Glück is commended for her themes on relationships, family, childhood, and darker themes of death and betrayal, often taking inspiration from mythology. This style of writing is a common occurrence that she has gained a reputation for being an influential voice in poetry, which is shown by the language used in her work.
“In her poems, the self listens for what is left of its dreams and delusions, and nobody can be harder than she in confronting the illusions of the self,” said Anders Olsson, chair of the Nobel Committee. “But even if Glück would never deny the significance of the autobiographical background, she is not to be regarded as a confessional poet. Glück seeks the universal, and in this, she takes inspiration from myths and classical motifs, present in most of her works. The voices of Dido, Persephone, and Eurydice — the abandoned, the punished, the betrayed — are masks for a self in transformation, as personal as it is universally valid.”
Glück expressed her surprise at winning the Nobel prize, stating in an interview that she believed her chances were pretty poor. It is deemed to be the highest honor a writer can receive and not only is it an award of prestige, but the winner receives a substantial amount of money. Since Wislawa Szymborska’s win in 1996, Glück is the first woman to be awarded the prize after the Polish writer.
Glück’s recently finished work is titled Winter Recipes From the Collective, a poetry collection that will be released next year.