Louise Glück: “I wanted my books to seem worlds.”


Accustomed to silence (Photo: Gasper Tringale)

Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Hass has called her “one of the purest and most accomplished lyric poets now writing.” For that reason and others we were pleased to learn Louise Glück has a new collection of poems coming out this fall, Faithful and Virtuous Night (Farrar, Straus & Giroux).  She is a Pulitzer Prize winner, too, along with just about every other honor in the poetry world – including a prestigious Bollingen Prize, given biennially for a poet’s lifetime achievement.

Glück, a Mohr visiting poet at Stanford, gave a reading from the new volume earlier this week – but you can also find some of the poems in the current issue of American Scholar.  “I wanted my books to seem worlds,” she said. If the reading was any indication, she’s succeeded in her quest.

The question-and-answer period afterward was short. In fact, it was confined to a single question about how long it took her to put together this collection of poems. The poet admitted she writes “very volcanically.” Each volume is followed by long silence – two years before the newest one, for example. It’s not a fun kind of silence. She described it as “a silence of anxiety and terror that my mind has been emptied and there would be life, but no more work. That sort of silence.”

“The summer was just rapture for me. Now is the plummet to the floor.” Eventually, “like the Wright Brothers, you go three inches off the floor.”

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