Light & Verity

Nobel Prize for Louise Glück

A Yale professor is honored for her "candid and uncompromising" poetry.

Katherine Wolkoff

Katherine Wolkoff

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Citing her “unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal,” the Nobel Committee announced in October that poet Louise Glück would receive the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature. Glück, an adjunct professor of English and Rosenkranz Writer-in-Residence, has taught poetry to Yale undergraduates since 2004.

Nobel committee chair Anders Olsson described Glück’s style: “The deceptively natural tone is striking. We encounter almost brutally straightforward images of painful family relations. It is candid and uncompromising, with no trace of poetic ornament.”

It’s not the first honor for Glück, who was US Poet Laureate during 2003–04 and has received the National Book Award and the National Humanities Medal. On campus, though, she’s known for her thoughtful and attentive teaching. “There is no teacher of writing more discerning, more encouraging, and more devoted than she,” former student Jared Newman ’19 told Yale News. “In fact, Louise may be the most generous person I have ever met.”

In a rare interview with the New York Times after the Nobel announcement, Glück talked about how teaching shapes her writing. “You’re constantly being bathed in the unexpected and the new,” she said. “You have to rearrange your ideas so that you can draw out of your students what excites them. My students amaze me; they dazzle me.”

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