Louise Glück has won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature "for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal," as the Swedish Academy commended. Along with Bob Dylan in 2016 and Toni Morrison in 1993, Glück was the third American to be honored with the prize in recent years. Glück, the 16th woman to win the literature prize since the Nobel prizes were first awarded in 1901, has published 12 poetry collections and several volumes of essays on poetry, with themes of childhood and family relationships, inspired by myths and classical motifs.
Previously Glück won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for her collection The Wild Iris，and the National Book Award in 2014. She also was awarded a 2015 National Humanities Medal by Barack Obama at the White House. Her other honors included the 2001 Bollingen Prize for Poetry, the Wallace Stevens Award, given in 2008. She was editor of the anthology The Best American Poetry 1993, and was named the United States’ poet laureate in 2003.
Though Glück’s dark themes -- isolation, betrayal, fractured relationships, aging, and death, present troubling aspects of human life, her refined language and allusions to mythology render her writing a universal and enduring appeal. The catharsis from reading her works transcends depressive facets of human existence. That is how her literature gives meanings to human sufferings and blunders. That is how the world, particularly during this isolated era of Covid-19, can always return to something pure and cleansed, something akin to the laureate’s poetry:
At the end of my suffering there was a door.
Hear me out: that which you call death I remember. ("The Wild Iris")