Louise Glück, the winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature and the United States Poet Laureate from 2003 to 2004, has died. She was eighty years old.
On Friday, her publisher, the MacMillan imprint Farrar, Straus & Giroux, acknowledged her death.
“Louise Glück’s poetry expresses our untrusting but insatiable desire for knowledge and connection in an often untrustworthy world,” said the poet’s longtime editor, Jonathan Galassi, in a statement. “Her work is immortal.”
Glück, one of the country’s most revered writers, drew inspiration from Greek mythology, her own life, and even ordinary things. Her poem about dying, The Wild Iris, for example, is recounted from the perspective of a flower:
“At the end of my suffering / there was a door. / Hear me out: that which you call death / I remember.”
“Louise’s voice was entirely unique, always subtle and off-putting. Tess Taylor, a poet, remarked, “She built up the terrain of lyric poetry, making it new while singing its deep past.” “The poetry wrestled with the concept of beauty. They were quite courageous.”
Gluck’s simple, sharp language garnered a slew of accolades over a five-decade career, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Humanities Medal, and the National Book Award. She has had work published in The New Yorker and The Atlantic Monthly, and she was the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry Practice at Yale University.
Dana Levin, a poet and educator, stated of Louise, “Louise was a transformative mentor for so many poets,” whose career she began after Glück chose her debut book for the American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize in 1999. “She had an uncanny ability to see the idiosyncratic genius inside a young poet, and was truly excited to help it develop.”
Glück was born in 1943 in New York. In her Nobel biography, she stated that her first novel was rejected 28 times. Its publication was followed by a period of inactivity.
But the poet ultimately returned to writing. “That it happened at all is a wonder,” she went on to say.