Louise Glück, the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature recipient and the American Poet Laureate from 2003 to 2004, has passed away. 80 years old was she.
Her publisher, the MacMillan imprint Farrar, Straus & Giroux, announced Glück’s passing on Friday.
“Louise Glück’s poetry gives voice to our untrusting but un-stillable need for knowledge and connection in an often unreliable world,” said the poet’s longtime editor, Jonathan Galassi, in a statement. “Her work is immortal.”
One of the most renowned writers in the nation, Glück drew inspiration from Greek mythology, her own experiences, and even commonplace objects. For instance, the perspective of a flower is used in her poem about dying, The Wild Iris:
“At the end of my suffering / there was a door. / Hear me out: that which you call death / I remember.”
“Louise’s voice was wholly its own, always deft and strange. She built up the terrain of lyric poetry — making it new while singing its deep past,” said poet Tess Taylor. “The poems struggled with beauty. There was a huge daring in them.”
Gluck’s terse, razor-sharp poems garnered a plethora of honors over a roughly five-decade career, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Humanities Medal, and the National Book Award. She held the Frederick Iseman Professor in the Practice of Poetry position at Yale University and had publications in The New Yorker and The Atlantic Monthly.
“Louise was a transformative mentor for so many poets,” said poet and teacher Dana Levin, whose career was launched after Glück selected her inaugural collection 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.”
In 1943, Glück was born in New York. In her Nobel biography, she stated that her first novel was rejected 28 times. After its release, there was a protracted writing lull.
But eventually the poet returned to writing. “That it happened at all is a wonder,” she said.