American poet, Louise Gluck has won this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature. Anders Olsson, Chair of the Nobel Committee, while announcing the award, said Gluck’s voice “is candid and uncompromising and signals that the poet wants to be understood… She has humour and biting wit.
“Even if her autobiographical background is significant in her works, she is not to be regarded as a confessional poet. She seeks universality… Three characteristics unite to recur in her works; the topic of family life, an austere but also playful intelligence, and a refined sense of composition.”
Gluck is the 16th woman to win the highly coveted prize. The prize, which is awarded annually, is given to anyone who has “produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction.”
Gluck, aged 67, was born on 22 April, 1943 in New York City. Her paternal grandparents were Hungarian Jews who emigrated to the Unites States. Though Gluck’s father, Daniel Gluck, had an ambition to become a writer, he went into business with his brother In-law.
She attended the University of Columbia, though not as a full time student and left without a degree. She then supported herself with secretarial work. She published her first collection of poems, Firstborn, in 1968 which received some positive critical attention. It was her second collection of poems, The House on Marshland, which she published in 1975 that critics have regarded as her breakthrough work, signalling her “discovery of a distinctive voice.”
Gluck’s poetry, is known for its universality and focuses on the painful reality of being human, dealing with themes such as death, childhood and family life.
She has received many major awards including the Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for her collection, The Wild Iris and the National Book award in 2014. She has also received multiple fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation.