American poet Louise Glück wins the Nobel Prize for Literature

STOCKHOLM, Oct 8 (Reuters) – American poet Louise Glück won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature for a work that explores family and childhood with an unmistakable poetic voice that, with stark beauty, makes individual existence universal, “said the Thursday the Swedish Academy.

Former United States President Barack Obama presents a medal to Louise Glück in Massachusetts on Sept. 22, 2016. File photo. Photo by Ron Sachs / CNP / ABACAPRESS.COM

The Permanent Secretary of the Academy, Mats Malm, said that Glück, winner of multiple American literary prizes, was “surprised and happy” with the news, despite receiving it in the American morning. The author did not comment to the journalists gathered outside her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

A Yale University professor, Glück, 77, was highly praised in 1968 for “Firstborn” and became one of the most prominent poets and essayists in contemporary American literature.

The Swedish Academy said that in Glück’s work “the self listens to what remains of her dreams and illusions and no one can be tougher than her to confront the illusions of the self.”

Making comparisons with other authors, the Academy said that Glück remembered the 19th century American poet Emily Dickinson in her “severity and reluctance to accept the simple dogmas of the faith.”

Glück becomes the 16th woman to win the world’s most prestigious literary distinction since the Nobel Prizes were launched more than a century ago.

While drawing on his own experiences in his poetry, Glück, who was twice divorced and suffered from anorexia in his youth, explores universal themes that resonate with readers in the United States and abroad.

Erica McAlpine, associate professor of English at the British University of Oxford, said Glück “has managed to feel urgently contemporary and at the same time timeless.”

“The occasional sadness in his voice speaks especially well of our present moment, and yet his poetry has always been intimately connected to the extensive poetic tradition behind it,” he added.

In her poems, “love, loss, desire and beauty wear the specific dress of their own life as they turn the everyday into something mythical,” said McAlpine.


Jonathan Galassi, president of his publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux, said by email that he was sure the Nobel Prize would bring Glück closer to “many, many new readers.”

“She is one of the few contemporary poets whose work has the gift of speaking directly to readers through her great and subtle art,” he added.

Glück won the American Pullitzer Prize in 1993 for his collection of poetry “The Wild Iris,” in which the title poem addressed suffering and memory with images of the natural world.

He received the Poet Laurate from the United States in 2003/04 and won the National Book Award for his collection “Faithful and Virtuous Night” six years ago.

In 2015, then-US President Barack Obama honored Glück with the National Medal of Arts and Humanities, saying that his “inquisitive poems capture the silent drama of nature and the silent emotions of ordinary people.”

The Nobel prizes for medicine, physics and chemistry were awarded earlier this week and the one for peace will be announced on Friday.

The 10 million Swedish crowns ($ 1.1 million) prize is named after dynamite inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel and has been awarded since 1901 for achievements in science, literature and peace, according to his will. .


Glück’s Nobel comes after years of controversy surrounding the Literature Prize, but Malm evaded questions about whether the poet had been chosen to address any concerns related to this.

Alluding to past disputes, he told reporters: “I would say that in our work (Nobel Prize), the crisis has not been decisive.”

In 2019, the Academy exceptionally named two winners after postponing the 2018 award following a sexual abuse scandal involving the husband of one of its members.

Later, the secretive 234-year-old Academy announced changes to improve the transparency of the awards process.

But one of the Nobel Prize winners for Literature announced last year, Austrian novelist and playwright Peter Handke, drew global criticism for his portrayal of Serbia as a victim during the Balkan wars of the 1990s and for attending the funeral of its nationalist leader Slobodan Milosevic.

The 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature awarded to American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan divided opinions on whether a popular musician should receive an award that had been largely dominated by novelists and playwrights.

Like much of public life around the world, this year’s awards have taken place in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, which led to the cancellation of the ostentatious awards ceremony, which takes place in December in Stockholm.

Instead, there will be a televised event in which the winners will be honored in their respective countries.

($ 1 = SEK 8.8956)

Additional reporting by Supantha Mukherjee, Niklas Pollard and Johannes Hellstrom in Stockholm. Daniel Trotta in New York. Written by Justyna Pawlak. Edited in Spanish by Lucila Sigal

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American poet Louise Glück wins the Nobel Prize for Literature

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