Louise Glück

(1943 - Present)

Louise Glück was born in New York City to a Jewish family and raised in nearby Long Island. She developed anorexia in her teens, the treatment for which prevented her from enrolling in college after high school; instead, she attended poetry classes at Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University. At Columbia, Glück studied with Stanley Kunitz and Léonie Adams, both of whose mentorship she has cited as important to her work.

Glück began publishing poetry around this time, beginning with a poem in Mademoiselle. Her work soon found placements in major publications such as Poetry, The Nation, and The New Yorker. She married Charles Hertz, Jr., in 1967, and her first full-length poetry collection, Firstborn, came out the following year. Stricken with writer’s block for the next few years, she found a role teaching poetry at Vermont’s Goddard College, where she found herself able to write the poems that became her second book, The House on Marshland. She gave birth to a son, Noah, in 1973, and divorced Hertz, marrying the writer John Dranow in 1977. In 1980, she published Descending Figure, which began to garner her a new level of praise and critical attention.

Her fourth collection, The Triumph of Achilles, won Glück the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry. Since then, she has published ten more collections, including her selected poems, Poems 1962–2012. Her poetry has won her a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, a Wallace Stevens Award, a Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, a Bollingen Prize, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and a National Humanities Medal, as well as the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature and many other awards. She also won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Nonfiction for her book of essays Proofs and Theories. Her poems have been anthologized in numerous collections, including major works such as the Norton Anthology of Poetry and the Oxford Book of American Poetry.

Glück’s dreamlike, intimate lyric poetry is known for its technical precision and bleak subject matter. Often autobiographical in nature, it evades the label of confessionalism through her use of personas, often drawn from myth. A much-admired poet by readers and critics alike, Glück was named the 12th United States Poet Laureate in 2003 and the judge for the Yale Series of Younger Poets in the same year. She has served as visiting faculty at schools including the Iowa Writers Workshop, Stanford University, Boston University, and others. With Rita Dove and W. S. Merwin, she served as special consultant to the Library of Congress for its bicentennial programming. A former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Glück is currently writer-in-residence at Yale University and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


More Louise Glück

Text/Audio/Video: Visit the Library of Congress' resouce guide on Louise Glück, including audio and video recordings

Text/Audio: Read and listen to poems by Glück at the Academy of American Poets

Audio: Glück speaks to Adam Smith on the occasion of her winning the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature