Award – US poet Louise Glück receives Nobel Prize for Literature for “strict beauty”

Who is Louise Lucky? She has been the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature since Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 1::01 p.m. With which the Swedish Academy once again provided at least a partial surprise.

The decision was preceded by violent arguments and endless list compilation in the feature pages.

The disputes concerned the Nobel Prize for Literature for Peter Handke in 2019, which was seen by large parts of the commentators as a political declaration of bankruptcy by the committee. The lists were about authors who in 2020 should enable the world’s most valuable literary prize (950,000 euros) to rise from the moral ashes like a purified phoenix.

Works by the new prize winner.  - © APAweb / TT News Agency / Henrik Montgomery / via Reuters
Works by the new prize winner. – © APAweb / TT News Agency / Henrik Montgomery / via Reuters

Naturally, black authors led before black authors. This time, it was thought, it had to be politically correct, the committee would not dare to do anything else. Maryse Condé was brought into play and Ngugi Wa Thiong ?? o. Or maybe Haruki Murakami? In any case, the features section gave little chance to Thomas Pynchon, who, as a white American man, would be an outsider of the Black Lives Matters year from the start.

The commentators overlooked one thing fundamentally: that they were proceeding exactly according to the pattern that they consistently accuse the Nobel Prize Committee for Literature, namely to put punctuation above literary quality. And now it is a woman, but a white and an American on top of that. But it is almost unknown even among European literary connoisseurs – at least much less known than the award winners of recent years. In 2008 her collection of poems “Wilde Iris” was published in German. It is long out of print. And that’s it, according to book shipping giant Amazon.

Unmistakable voice

An overlooked poet? An overlooked genius? That is supposed to happen in the world of literature. “Louise Elisabeth Glück was honored for her unmistakable poetic voice, which makes individual existence universal with its strict beauty,” said the Swedish Academy. A quick broadcast among English and Americanists – yes, you’ve heard the name before, it is considered one of the big names in the USA. But hardly anyone can really associate anything with her. Poet Fate. The American publishers do not even agree whether they should write the author “Glück” or “Gluck”, without the unpopular German umlaut dots.

The New Yorker, who was born on April 22, 1943, has already attracted a lot of attention if you consider the prizes alone: ​​National Humanities Medal, Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, Bollingen Prize – these are just one of them couple of them. From 2003 to 2004 she was the poet laureate of the United States, roughly the official state poet of the United States.

Louise Glück is the daughter of Jewish emigrants from Hungary. During her school days she suffered from anorexia. With the help of therapy, she overcame the disease and took a course in poetic writing. She was married twice, both marriages failed. The personal strokes of fate flow into her poetry again and again, as do themes of feminism.

“When you came in with your suitcase / leaving the door open so that the night / behind you showed itself in a black square with its little stars like nail heads / I wanted to tell you: / that you were like the dog that regularly came to you / on three legs “, picks up one of her poems and transforms an everyday situation into atmosphere and irony in just a few words. Another poem from the “Wild Iris” collection begins: “Would you like to know how I spend my time? / I walk across the lawn pretending / like I am weeding.” At the end it says: “You want to see my hands? / They are as empty as on the first note. / Or was it about always going on without a sign?”

It reads almost like a poetry by Sylvia Plath that has been hesitantly turned into a positive – and immediately shows why the poetry of Louise Glück enjoys high status in the USA, but does not really go down in German-speaking countries: it is a poem that is less so in these cases is based on inspiration and bold imagery than on the transformation of everyday situations, the poetization of which one can work out for oneself. In German-speaking countries, people generally look down on this learnable poetry.

In 2016, Louise Glück was awarded the National Humanities Medal by Barack Obama.  - © APAweb / afp
In 2016, Louise Glück was awarded the National Humanities Medal by Barack Obama. – © APAweb / afp

Over time experiences of sadness

But Louise Glück is to be placed much higher than the poets in the writing courses. One of her masterpieces is the poem “October”, the type of one of the long poems often used by English-speaking poets such as Wystan Hugh Auden and TS Eliot.

In “October” Louise Glück reacts to the terrorist attacks of September 11th and in invoking and overcoming suffering and suffering draws a wide arc from antiquity to the present: “Is it winter again, / is it cold again, / is Frank didn’t just slip on the ice / he didn’t recover / the spring seeds weren’t planted / the night didn’t end / the melting ice didn’t / the narrow gutters / wasn’t my body / saved, it wasn’t safe / didn’t not the scar invisible scar form, invisible formed over the wound / fear and cold “, it says in the poem.

Bridging the gap between archetypal situations that she found in antiquity and current fractures and injuries is characteristic of Louise Glück’s poetry, as is the case in “The Triumph of Achilles” and “Ararat”. The exact naming and the enrichment of the language with sensual stimulus words are components of this poetry, which is actually to be assessed as poetry of timeless importance.

With which the Swedish Academy, at least from a German-speaking point of view, has embarked on a new path: It was not the (social) political punctuation that was decisive, not the international meaning of a name, but the quality of a poem, which, like many great poems, too Position. Above all, however, it is a signal to discover one of the essential voices of contemporary poetry – and it is also commendable that after the prose authors Kazuo Ishiguro (2017), Olga Tokarczuk (2018) and Peter Handke (2019), poetry is once again worth the price was deemed. You can therefore wholeheartedly agree with the 2020 Nobel Prize for Literature for Louise Glück.

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