Poetry in the Time of Covid-19

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")


瑞典学院称赞路易丝·格吕克(Louise Glück),认为其获得2020年诺贝尔文学奖的原因在于:“她以朴实的诗歌声音表达出朴素的美,使个体的存在变得普遍。”格吕克(Glück)与2016年的鲍勃·迪伦(Bob Dylan)和1993年的托尼·莫里森(Toni Morrison),是近年来三位获得该奖项的美国人。而自1901年诺贝尔奖首次颁发以来,格吕克则是第十六位获得文学奖的女性。格吕克出版了十二本诗歌集和几本关于诗歌的论文,作品涉及童年和家庭关系的主题,并受到神话和古典文学的启发。

在此之前,格吕克(Glück)的作品《荒野中的鸢尾花》(The Wild Iris)赢得了1993年的普利策奖,以及2014年的国家图书奖(National Book Award)。巴拉克·奥巴马(Barack Obama)并于2015年在白宫授予之国家人文奖。她的其他荣誉包括2001年的Bollingen诗歌奖、2008年的华莱士·史蒂文斯奖,她也是1993年最佳美国诗歌选集的编辑,并于2003年被命名为美国诗人桂冠。