Louise Glück visits Swarthmore

Louise Glück, the United States Poet Laureate for 2003, visited the Swarthmore campus on Tuesday for an informal talk with students as well as a reading of some of her recent work. Glück’s poetry reading was the first Cooper event of the semester, and students, faculty, and community members showed up in full force, nearly filling LPAC cinema.

Nathalie Anderson, English professor and director of the creative writing program, introduced Glück. She identified Glück as one of today’s “most compelling poets” and offered a brief discussion of the poet’s form, imagery, and willingness to take on tough subjects. Anderson also offered a summary of Glück’s many accomplishments, which include publishing eleven books of poetry which have garnered various awards. Among these awards are the Pulitzer Prize, the Bollingen Prize in Poetry, the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Poetry Society of America’s Melville Kane and William Carlos Williams Awards, and the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry. Glück taught at Williams College for many years and is currently the Rosencranz Writer-in-Residence at Yale.

After Anderson’s introduction, Glück took the stage to read selections from her most recent work. Glück read three long poems, offering a brief introduction for each one. The first poem, “Landscape,” was a five part narrative in which each portion was representative of various episodes in life. The next poem, “Prison,” was divided into twenty brief parts. The poem as a whole dealt with family and the illusion of romantic, perfect love, and it oscillated between serious notes and witty lines that caused the generally silent audience to laugh. The reading ending on a serious note, however, with Glück closing with a poem entitled “October.” Written after the attacks of September 11th, Glück referred to the poem as a response to the realization that the outside world was as “chaotic and disturbed” as her own life, rather than the safe haven she had fantasized about.


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