Glück was born in New York City in 1943 and grew up on Long Island. As a child he read and wrote poetry. She wrote some of her earliest verses when she was 5 years old and decided to become a poet when she was young. As a teenager, she struggled with anorexia, a disease she later attributed to her obsession with purity and control, and nearly starved to death before finally recovering through therapy.
At that time she took part in poetry workshops and attended Sarah Lawrence College and later Columbia University, where she studied with the poet Stanley Kunitz. She supported herself by working as a secretary so she could write on the side. In 1968 she published her first collection “Firstborn”. While her debut was well received by critics, she subsequently wrestled with writer’s block and accepted an apprenticeship at Goddard College in Vermont. Working with students inspired her to write again, and she published a dozen volumes of poetry.
Happiness takes inspiration from classic mythological figures in much of her work. In her 1996 Meadowlands collection, she interweaves the characters of Odysseus and Penelope from Homer’s Odyssey with the story of the dissolution of a modern marriage. In her 2006 collection “Averno” she used the myth of Persephone as a lens for mother-daughter relationships, suffering, aging and death.
The 2020 Nobel Prizes
Updated October 8, 2020
Lucky verses often reflect their preoccupation with dark subjects – isolation, betrayal, broken family and marital relationships, death. But their frugal, distilled language and frequent recourse to well-known mythological figures give their poetry a universal and timeless feel, said critic and writer Daniel Mendelsohn, editor of the New York Review of Books.
“When you read her poetry about these difficult things, you feel more purified than depressed,” he said. “This is one of the purest poetic sensations in world literature right now. It’s a kind of absolute poetry, poetry without gimmicks, without dealing with fads or trends. It has the quality of something that is almost out of time. “