Opening Lines: Where Great Books Begin…Averno

This is the moment when you see again

the red berries of the mountain ash

and in the dark sky

the birds’ night migrations.

It grieves me to think

the dead won’t see them–

these things we depend on

they disappear.

From “Averno” by Louise Glück

Louise Glück

In 1943, Louise Glück was born in New York City and grew up on Long Island. She is the author of numerous books of poetry, most recently, A Village Life: Poems (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2009); Averno (2006), a finalist for the 2006 National Book Award in Poetry; The Seven Ages (2001); and Vita Nova (1999), winner of Boston Book Review’s Bingham Poetry Prize and The New Yorker‘s Book Award in Poetry. In 2004, Sarabande Books released her six-part poem “October” as a chapbook.

Her other books include Meadowlands (1996); The Wild Iris (1992), which received the Pulitzer Prize and the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Award; Ararat (1990), for which she received the Library of Congress’s Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry; and The Triumph of Achilles (1985), which received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Boston Globe Literary Press Award, and the Poetry Society of America’s Melville Kane Award.

In a review in The New Republic, the critic Helen Vendler wrote: “Louise Glück is a poet of strong and haunting presence. Her poems, published in a series of memorable books over the last twenty years, have achieved the unusual distinction of being neither “confessional” nor “intellectual” in the usual senses of those words.”

She has also published a collection of essays, Proofs and Theories: Essays on Poetry (1994), which won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Nonfiction. Her honors include the Bollingen Prize in Poetry, the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, a Sara Teasdale Memorial Prize, the MIT Anniversary Medal and fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, and from the National Endowment for the Arts.

In 1999 Glück was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. In the fall of 2003, she replaced Billy Collins as the Library of Congress’s twelfth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. In 2003, she was announced as the new judge of the Yale Series of Younger Poets.  In 2008, Glück was selected to receive the Wallace Stevens Award for mastery in the art of poetry.

She is a writer-in-residence at Yale University.

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