It’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:
“Mock Orange,” from “The Triumph of Achilles” (1985), is an unforgettable poem, but it is a niche poem, and Glück, up until around 1990, was a niche poet, albeit a brilliant one. Nobody did disembodied ferocity or eerie force better than she did, but life was drawing a wider and wider circumference around the fixed foot of her voice. She needed a way of being ample without sacrificing precision; she had to become generously stringent, no easy task.”
I’m just happy and surprised that I was able to see the turn and maturity of her work, right as it is described and noticed by others. And my God! Believe that it could take a poet 22 years to write the perfect book without a single wasted word.
It is such a personal, raw and real work, but a theme she had often touched in poems before. The relationship between her mother, and the loss of her mother’s child. But this time, there was magic when she went deeper, and further.
While it may look easy to do, to some, or that it is natural for her, or that writing is natural, I wonder if we writer’s poets, and artists of all kinds, in general, forget that we must work as the miners do.
That we work with the trust that one day, we will find the jewels that we seek. As cliché as it may sound, it’s the best metaphor that I can think of. And during my reading at the EW Reading Series, Sang took a look at my poems, picked one, and said, ‘I want you to go further with this. There’s something there. Write about this’. I can’t help but think about the themes that recur in our work, and how we dance around them, oblivious that this is The Gold.
It takes years of blasting and chiseling, tunneling and death-defying hours of practice, and practice, and practice, and writing, and polishing, and writing, and polishing and loss of life, jobs, and life spinning all around, through so many perils and dangers to get there, to get to exactly something you may have touched once or twice before.
My applause to Ms. Glück, in showing my thanks and appreciation for such a fine journey, and to see with my own eyes. And that the work that I’m writing now won’t be the same work I hope to mine and write, with greater clarity and raw realness that only comes with age, and hard knocks from life. In 22 years time, I hope to see in my work, the truth that poetry, as most other art in general, grows more and more beautiful with age.