American poet Louise Gluck wins Nobel literature prize

Poet Louise Gluck, who has been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, with Barack Obama in 2015
Poet Louise Gluck, who has been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, with Barack Obama in 2015 (AP)
12:42pm, Thu 08 Oct 2020
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The Nobel Prize for literature has been awarded to American poet Louise Gluck “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal”.

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

New York-born Gluck, 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 said.

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

It noted 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 (£872,000) prize, comes after several years of controversy and scandal for the world’s pre-eminent literary accolade.

In 2018 the award was postponed after sex abuse allegations rocked the Swedish Academy, the body that chooses the winners, and sparked a mass exodus of members.

After the academy revamped itself in a bid to regain the trust of the Nobel Foundation, two laureates were named last year, with the 2018 prize going to Poland’s Olga Tokarczuk and the 2019 award to Austria’s Peter Handke.

Still to come this year are prizes are for outstanding work in the fields of peace and economics.

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