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Louise Glück is a poet whose work has been described as technically precise, sensitive, insightful and gripping.
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Yet her careful selection for rhythm and repetition, and the specificity of even her idiomatically vague phrases, give her poems a weight that is far from colloquial." Lesser goes on to remark that "the strength of that voice derives in large part from its self- centeredness--literally, for the words in Glück's poems seem to come directly from the center of herself."
Because Glück writes so effectively about disappointment, rejection, loss, and isolation, reviewers frequently refer to her poetry as "bleak" or "dark." For example, Deno Trakas observes in the Dictionary of Literary Biography that "Glück's poetry has few themes and few moods. Whether she is writing autobiographically or assuming a persona, at the center of every poem is an 'I' who is isolated from family, or bitter from rejected love, or disappointed with what life has to offer. Her world is bleak; however, it is depicted with a lyrical grace, and her poems are attractive if disturbing. . . . Glück's poetry, despite flaws, is remarkable for its consistently high quality." Addressing the subdued character of her verse in Nation, Don Bogen cites as Glück's "basic concerns" "betrayal, mortality, love and the sense of loss that accompanies it. . . . She is at heart the poet of a fallen world. . . . Glück's work to define that mortal part shows dignity and sober compassion." Bogen elaborates further: "Fierce yet coolly intelligent, Glück's poem disturbs not because it is idiosyncratic but because it defines something we feel yet rarely acknowledge; it strips off a veil. Glück has never been content to stop at the surfaces of things. Among the well-mannered forms, nostalgia and blurred resolutions of today's verse, the relentless clarity of her work stand out." Readers and reviewers have also marvelled at Glück's custom of creating poetry with a dreamlike quality that at the same time deals with the realities of passionate and emotional subjects. Holly Prado declares in a Los Angeles Times Book Review piece on Glück's fifth book, The Triumph of Achilles that Glück's poetry works "because she has an unmistakable voice that resonates and brings into our contemporary world the old notion that poetry and the visionary are intertwined." Prado continues to reflect: "The tone of her work is eerie, philosophical, questioning. Her poems aren't simply mystical ramblings. Far from it. They're sternly well-crafted pieces. But they carry the voice of a poet who sees, within herself, beyond the ordinary and is able to offer powerful insights, insights not to be quickly interpreted."
"Glück's ear never fails her; she manages to be conversational and lyrical at the same time, a considerable achievement when so much contemporary poetry is lamentably prosaic," asserts Wooten in the American Poetry Review. "Her range is personal and mythical, and the particular genius of the volume rests in its fusion of both approaches, rescuing the poems from either narrow self-glorification or pedantic myopia." This mythical voice, echoing the emotional quandaries of the twentieth century, can be quickly identified in Meadowlands, Glück's ninth volume of verse, through the voices of Odysseus and Penelope.
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