Acclaimed poet Louise Glück is the 16th woman to win the prestigious Nobel Prize for Literature, and the first woman since Toni Morrison was awarded it in 1993.
One of America’s leading poets, the 77-year-old writer whose career has spanned over five decades, has published many volumes of poetry and has received almost every important literary prize including The National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Humanities Medal.
Anders Olsson, chair of the Nobel Prize committee, praised Glück’s “candid and uncompromising” voice, which is “full of humour and biting wit”.
Her 12 collections of poetry include the recent Faithful and Virtuous Night, the Pulitzer-winning The Wild Iris, and the Averno, and similarities with Emily Dickinson are often favourably drawn.
“Poetry survives because it haunts and it haunts because it is simultaneously utterly clear and deeply mysterious; because it cannot be entirely accounted for, it cannot be exhausted.”Louise Glück, American Originality: Essays on Poetry
Born in 1943, Glück graduated from Columbia University and has taught poetry in many universities in the US. She is currently an adjunct professor of English at Yale.
A writer who has shied away from the limelight, media-shy Glück was appointed the US poet laureate in 2003. Now, the Nobel Prize for Literature has put her into the spotlight as she ably fulfilled the rather tenuous condition laid out in Alfred Nobel’s will: to “have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction.”
Plagued by scandal and contentious choices (Bob Dylan’s win in 2016 comes to mind) it was predicted that the Swedish Academy would go for a safe choice this year. That they chose a woman writer of stature, whose works are a distillation of beauty, originality and eloquence, is proof that they can get it right.