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American Jewish poet Louise Glück wins Nobel literature prize

The Nobel Prize for literature is awarded to American Jewish poet Louise Glück “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal.”

The prize is announced in Stockholm by Mats Malm, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy.

New York-born Glück, 77, who is a professor of English at Yale University, made her debut in 1968 with “Firstborn,” and “was soon acclaimed as one of the most prominent poets in American contemporary literature,” the Nobel Academy says.

Her poetry is “characterized by a striving for clarity,” often focusing on childhood and family life, and close relationship with parents and siblings, it says.

Because Glück writes so effectively about disappointment, rejection, loss, and isolation, reviewers frequently refer to her poetry as “bleak” or “dark.”

“…Glück’s “basic concerns” were “betrayal, mortality, love and the sense of loss that accompanies it… She is at heart the poet of a fallen world.”

Stephen Burt, reviewing her collection Averno (2006), noted that “few poets save [Sylvia] Plath have sounded so alienated, so depressed, so often, and rendered that alienation aesthetically interesting.”

Readers and reviewers have also marveled at Glück’s gift for creating poetry with a dreamlike quality that at the same time deals with the realities of passionate and emotional subjects.

The Nobel Academy notes her 2006 collection “Averno,” calling it “masterly” and “a visionary interpretation of the myth of Persephone’s descent into hell in the captivity of Hades, the god of death.”

The award, which includes a 10 million kronor (more than $1.1 million) prize, comes after several years of controversy and scandal for the world’s pre-eminent literary accolade.

Louise Gluck, the American granddaughter of Hungarian Jews, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday.

Her collections of poetry — which explore broad and painful topics, such as family life, trauma and aging — include the books “The Wild Iris,” “Meadowlands,” “The Triumph of Achilles” and “Ararat.” For “The Wild Iris” she was awarded the 1993 Pulitzer Prize in poetry.

Born in New York in 1943, Gluck would go on to become the United States’ poet laureate in 2003 and receive a National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama in 2015.

Gluck’s paternal Jewish grandparents owned a grocery after settling in New York City. Her father helped invent the X-Acto knife.

She is the first American and first Jewish writer to win the award since songwriter Bob Dylan won it in 2016.

Header: Louise Gluck speaks at the 2014 National Book Awards in New York City, Nov. 19, 2014. (Robin Marchant/Getty Images)

Source: JTA, AP and AGENCIES