In an interview in 2012, Glück said, “I learned to read very early, very young, and my father was fond of writing doggerel verses. So the children, the two of us, we started writing books very early. He would print them out and we would illustrate them, and many times the text was in verse.” She began writing poems in her early teens and began sending verses to poetry magazines. They were rejected, but, she said, “I persisted.”
She once described her young self as “not a successful adolescent.” She felt that other children considered her strange. “I became quite withdrawn, and then I became severely anorexic,” she said. But she was determined to be an artist and a professor.
Her work is widely anthologized and the subject of considerable academic study. In 2012, Farrar, Straus and Giroux assembled her life’s work in a collection titled simply “Poems 1962-2012.” Reviewing the collection for The Washington Post, Steven Ratiner wrote, “Glück’s ‘Poems 1962-2012’ is weighted with the dark matter of the human universe, invisible in our everyday interactions but at the core of our conscious experience. Though Glück lays bare the most intimate moments of longing and loss, these poems are not what we think of as confessional. They are more like the record of a shipwreck survivor trying to come to terms with the strain of isolation and the stark horizon of her island. Language is the castaway’s only refuge.”
Her poem “Birthday” contains these stark lines:
Staring blindly ahead, the expression of someone staring into utter darkness.
And thinking — which meant, I remember, the attempts of the mind
Riddled with self-doubt, self-loathing,
and at the same time suffused
with contempt for the communal, the ordinary; forever
consigned to solitude, the bleak solace of perception. . . .
Thursday’s announcement honoring one of the world’s most beloved poets may help put the literature committee’s past troubles behind it.
In 2017, the husband of one of the academy’s members was accused of sexual assault and subsequently convicted of rape. That scandal led to related accusations involving fraud, bad management and widespread misogyny. In the ensuing administrative battle, the permanent secretary of the academy was forced out, several members resigned and the Nobel Foundation, which funds the award, demanded changes. Structural problems with the committee were considered so intractable that the 2018 literature prize was postponed till 2019.
But whatever improvements were made during that hiatus felt irrelevant almost as soon as the committee returned. Last year’s literature prize was awarded to Peter Handke, a controversial Austrian writer known for his sympathy for the late Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic, who was accused of genocide. To many people around the world, honoring Handke felt like a shameful betrayal of the committee’s ideals.
The winner of the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize will be announced Friday.
This year’s Nobel ceremony in Stockholm has been canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The Washington Post