A Raw Journey Through Glück’s Collection of Poems

glucklousie_poemsIt’s amazing to have the opportunity to read a poet’s collection of work. In reading through Louise Glück’s “Poems 1962-2012” (Ecco and Farrar, Straus & Giroux), starting in 1962, I found that I loved many. But it wasn’t until I begin reading her book “Ararat” (1990) that I felt that I was reading gold, and that I was reading the current level of writing we all know and love Glück’s work for. While some poems were doggy eared from her earlier years, I found that every poem in “Ararat” was doggy eared and reread at least twice. You can tell the work of mastery and years of hard work.

Indeed, in Dan Chiasson’s post in The New Yorker (November 12, 2012), he writes:

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On Making the Poetry Manuscript

Worth Revisiting: Levine’s On Making the Poetry Manuscript

Jeffrey Levine

The Poetry Manuscript: Arts and Crafts

Here, adapted from my article in the 2007 issue of the AWP Job List (there titled Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Poetry Manuscript:Some Ideas on Creation and Order) is a revised and updated advice on making a book out of your individual poems, given as one who reads three-to-four thousand manuscripts a year.

Admittedly, some of this advice remains concrete, generic, and “merely” stylistic, although I suppose even nuts and bolts have some intrinsic value when collected in one place. As style is a matter of taste, you must take into account that what I say reflects my own prejudices and preferences.

Many of these thoughts concern more artistic matters: What is the artistic process as applied to making a poetry manuscript cohere? What are some useful approaches to the art of transforming individual poems into a transcendent whole?

In the…

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