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Louise Glück Go to Transcript

Location: Cambridge, MA | Date: May 15, 2014

Louise Glück (born April 22, 1943) is an American poet. She was appointed Poet Laureate... Full Bio and Bibliography

"But if these manuscripts are being screened by people whose aesthetic judgment you question, you don't know what you're getting. So I asked to see as many as possible with the understanding that nothing would be thrown out until a winner was chosen because if I didn't find a winner in a hundred manuscripts, I was going to see the next hundred."

From interview section 1, "Judging the Yale Younger Poets Prize"

"I love that book. I love that book and I just think he's an amazement."

From interview section 2, "Richard Siken and Crush"

"I have to be able to move my pen around and make notes, first of all. I have to see what it looks like, what the duration is, and I have to be able to read the beginning and the end—I have to have it all in my head."

From interview section 3, "Devices and Initial Composition"

"I send them a typed script, which is kind of harrowing because then I have to proof the digital and be sure there haven't been mistakes. And there are always huge mistakes."

From interview section 4, "Proofing Manuscripts (Analog and Digital)"

"I've been writing since I was a child. And I had a very high opinion of my early work, so I was sending books out to publishers in my early teens."

From interview section 5, "Writing Career"

"The shape has always been periods in the desert—you know, without language—and then work. After I was 50, most of my books were written very fast. Like in six to eight weeks."

From interview section 6, "Fast (and Slow) Writing"

"It's only afterward I think, 'Well, I can't do that again.' And then sometimes you see things like, 'Isn't it odd? I've never used a contraction. Ever,' and then you think, 'Well, I guess I have to figure out how to use a contraction.'"

From interview section 7, "Evolution of Style and Identifying Tics"

"I thought it was suicidal to do. Most of my life, I was repelled by it in principle. The idea of doing it myself was horrifying. I mean, I never read my old books. I have no reason to."

From interview section 8, "Assembling The Collected Poems"

"So I have a whole bunch of these eerie notebooks, and I realized that it was working kind of well. Once I started working on the poem, then I would work on it the way I always had. Only a lot of it was longhand, and the lines were getting differently shaped."

From interview section 9, "On Faithful and Virtuous Night and Writing Longhand"

"I read garden catalogues and listened to Don Giovanni for two years, and I thought, 'I'm brain dead. Of course I can't write.'"

From interview section 10, "Rituals and Patterns"

"You start seeing these weird overlaps and resonances and echoes that you hadn't planned. Proofing my new book, I see the strangest parallels and language recurrences."

From interview section 11, "Knowing When It's Finished (Assembling Manuscripts)"

"Often, you can take out everything that's weak and transitions that are obvious, but what you've then wrecked is the feeling of duration—the poem has become too brisk, and needs to have a feeling of more languorous unfolding."

From interview section 12, "Revision (Cutting and Collecting)"

"Sometimes, you'll feel these poems—if they're ever going to be understood by anyone—will be understood by X. And you're usually right—when X says, 'This won't do,' you trust it, because the person is basically on the side of the work."

From interview section 13, "Collaboration and Sharing Drafts"

"It was a sense of how, sort of slovenly, handwriting became form. I don't get that on the screen. I don't see lines on the screen quite the same way, and I don't feel as though I'm making the letter."

From interview section 14, "Choosing Not to Use a Computer"

"There was a period in my life when—even like ten, twelve years ago—I just wrote lots of letters to lots of people, and I loved getting letters back, and I loved writing letters. And then that stopped. I don't know why that stopped."

From interview section 15, "Digital Correspondence"

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"Louise Glück does not use a computer. For her, the transition between physical and mechanized drafting is neither linear nor chronological. Earlier in her career, she composed poems on a typewriter--and from there, the shift was not from typewriter to computer, but rather back to..."

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