The Poetry of Louise Glück: A Thematic Introduction
A dominant figure in American poetry for more than thirty-five years, Louise Glück has been the recipient of virtually every major poetry award and was named U.S. poet laureate for 2003-2004. In a new full-length study of her work, Daniel Morris explores how this prolific poet utilizes masks of characters from history, the Bible, and even fairy tales. Morris treats Glück's persistent themes--desire, hunger, trauma, survival--through close reading of her major book-length sequences from the 1990s: Ararat, Meadowlands, and The Wild Iris. An additional chapter devoted to The House on Marshland (1975) shows how its revision of Romanticism and nature poetry anticipated these later works. Seeing Glück's poems as complex analyses of the authorial self via sustained central metaphors, Morris reads her poetry against a narrative pattern that shifts from the tones of anger, despair, and resentment found in her early Firstborn to the resignation of Ararat--and proceeds in her latest volumes, including Vita Nova and Averno, toward an ambivalent embrace of embodied life. By showing how Glück's poems may be read as a form of commentary on the meanings of great literature and myth, Morris emphasizes her irreverent attitude toward the canons through which she both expresses herself and deflects her autobiographical impulse. By discussing her sense of self, of Judaism, and of the poetic tradition, he explores her position as a mystic poet with an ambivalent relationship to religious discourse verging on Gnosticism, with tendencies toward the ancient rabbinic midrash tradition of reading scripture. He particularly shows how her creative reading of past poets expresses her vision of Judaism as a way of thinking about canonical texts. The Poetry of Louise Glück is a quintessential study of how poems may be read as a form of commentary on the meanings of great literature and myth. It clearly demonstrates that, through this lens of commentary, one can grasp more firmly the very idea of poetry itself that Glück has spent her career both defining and extending.
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Contemporary Jewish Poet
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Abishag Allen Grossman ambivalent Ararat associated autobiographical becomes Bible biblical body canon commentary contemporary creative culture David death described desire detachment divine emotional essay exist experience expresses father feel female feminist figure flowers Frank Bidart garden gardener-poet Gliick's speaker Gluck God's Gretel Harold Bloom Homer House on Marshland human identity imagines interpretation James Longenbach Jesus Jewish American Judaism language linguistic literary loss Louise Gliick lyric Magi maternity Matins Meadowlands midrash Moses mother Mount Ararat myth mythic narrative nature Odysseus Parable parents Penelope Penelope's perspective poem poet poetics poetry readers reading realm relationship revision Robert Lowell Romanticism sequence significance silence sister Song speak stanza story suggests symbolic T. S. Eliot Telemachus Tintern Abbey tion tone tradition transforms trauma tree Triumph of Achilles Vespers Vita Nova voice Wallace Stevens Wild Iris Winter Morning witness writing Yahweh yearning Yeats