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Forms of Narrative in the Poetry of Louise Glück

Forms of Narrative in the Poetry of Louise Glück

(p.136) Forms of Narrative in the Poetry of Louise Glück
One Kind of Everything
Dan Chiasson
University of Chicago Press

Louise Glück is the author of ten books of poetry, including Firstborn (1968) and Averno (2006), and a book of essays, Proofs and Theories (1995). Her most recent books, such as Meadowlands and Averno, show Glück as amply social, funny, and tender as often as she is stern, dispassionate, and ironic. This broader affective range is the result, as this chapter argues, of her interest in narrative. The opportunities presented by telling stories—and the frustrations with having stories told about her—have become central concerns for Glück. No living poet has made lyric poetry answer so fruitfully to the narrative drive. Glück writes poems of alternating ecstasy and self-repudiation. Most recently, in her long poem “Prism,” Glück has developed her long interest in didactic subgenres like riddle and parable, interspersing them with more conventional lyricism to write a non-narrative, indeed “prismatic” autobiography.

Keywords:   Louise Glück, lyric poetry, autobiography, ecstasy, self-repudiation, narrative, Prism, Averno, Meadowlands, parable

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