Prof Louise Gluck:  One of the purest and most accomplished lyric poets

The poet Louise Gluck has become the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature in 27 years. One of America’s leading poets, the 77-year-old writer/poet Louise Gluck has also won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, tackling themes including childhood and family life, often reworking Greek and Roman myths.
Born in New York City in 1943 and grew up on Long Island, She attended Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University. Considered by many to be one of America’s most talented contemporary poets, Glück is known for her poetry’s technical precision, sensitivity, and insight into loneliness, family relationships, divorce, and death. The poet Robert Hass has called her “one of the purest and most accomplished lyric poets now writing.” In 2020 she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature "for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal." Glück is the 16th woman to win the Nobel, and the first American woman since Toni Morrison took the prize in 1993.
Glück is the author of 12 books of poetry, including the recent collections Faithful and Virtuous Night (2014), winner of the National Book Award, and Poems 1962-2012 (2012), which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, as well as the essay collection American Originality (2017). Glück’s early books feature personae grappling with the aftermaths of failed love affairs, disastrous family encounters, and existential despair, and her later work continues to explore the agony of the self. Her first book of poetry, Firstborn (1968), was recognized for its technical control as well as its collection of disaffected, isolated narratives. Helen Vendler commented on Glück’s use of story in her New Republic review of The House on Marshland (1975).
In 1901, French poet and essayist Sully Prudhomme (1839–1907) was the first person to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, "in special recognition of his poetic composition, which gives evidence of lofty idealism, artistic perfection and a rare combination of the qualities of both heart and intellect."
India's association with the Nobel Prize goes back, across centuries and latitudes. Poet, writer and thinker Rabindranath Tagore brought glory to the country when he became the first Indian to win the Nobel Prize for the country. The 52-year-old Tagore was accorded the honour in 1913, 12 years after it made its debut. Ever since nine other laureates with an India connection have been conferred the prestigious award in various categories, Abhijit Banerjee being the latest.
There were a few famous names who were nominated several times but failed to bag the award. While Indian poet Sri Aurobindo was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1943 and 1950, the committee had considered Mahatma Gandhi for the Peace Prize five times in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947 & 1948 (days before his assassination).
The Noble Prize comes with a medal and a prize of 10 million Swedish kronor (about $1.1 million). Prof Gluck would normally receive  the Noble from King Carl XVI Gustaf at the formal ceremony in Stockholm on December 20, the anniversary of the 1896 death of scientist Alfred Noble who created the prizes in his last will and testament.
 

- Prabhakar Purandare

Other Editorials