Saturday, April 7, 2018

G is for Louise Glück: Detached Subjectivity

It's April! Time for the AtoZ Blogging Challenge!

For those who haven't played along before, the AtoZ Blogging Challenge asks bloggers to post every day during April (excepting Sundays), which works out to 26 days, one for each letter of the alphabet. In my opinion, it's the most fun if you choose a theme.

This will be my 5th year participating.
My theme this year is Poets I Love all about some of the poets whose work has touched me over the years.

For my regular readers, you'll see more than the usual once-a-week posts from me this month. I'm having a great time writing them, so I hope you enjoy reading them, too. Be sure to check out some of the other bloggers stretching their limits this month to share their passions with you, too. With over 400 participants, there is bound to be something you'd love to read.


Louise Glück was suggested to me by one of my college professors when I was taking a poetry writing class. I don't remember what my professor thought I would like about her work, just her saying, "You should check out Louise Glück."

The book I found was The Triumph of Achilles, 
published in 1985 and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry. Thematically, the collection could maybe best be called "archetypal" in that it explores ancient Greek mythology, fairy tales, and Biblical themes alongside personal insights, often reinterpreting the stories you think you already know in a new light. It begins with a poem called "Mock Orange" and these lines:

My professor was right. I was going to like this poet. In fact, I followed her work for quite a long time, until poetry drifted out of my life for a few years. I see she's released more books since I last looked, so I'll be back to see where her words took her.

I loved and still love the dialogue feeling of this poem. Though we don't get any details about "you" in the poem, we do get the feeling of the relationship, the defensive antagonism, the "don't patronize me with your sympathy" anger in the speaker. I feel like I jumped into the middle of a circular argument, often tread by the people in this relationship. There's enough ambivalence that I'm not sure if the speaker is being gaslighted, or if there's something else entirely going on.

Reading her poems always makes me want to write, to fill in the details Glück chose not to, to imagine the surroundings of the moment, the backstories of the characters, to discover what happened afterwards. The writing feels intensely personal, and at the same time detached, like trying to describe emotional truths in intellectual language. In that way, they are participatory for me, evoking my own imagination and emotions and leaving me thinking deeply.

1 comment:

  1. I did not hear of Louise Gluck before, but from what I see she sound's interesting :) Your professor must have known you very well, my favorite authors always make me want to write after reading their work.

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