In Stanford in 2008, Irish poet Evan Bolland told me how much he admired Louis Gluck’s work. She took some volumes of her poetry from her office shelf and gave them to me.
That night I read the opening lines of a poem:
I sleep, so you will live,
It’s very simple.
Dreams themselves are nothing.
They are a disease you control,
It was called A Dream of Lament. I was amazed by its twisted and painful voice, its deeply private, strangely elevated and mythical mix.
In an article about Emily Dickinson, Glock wrote: “It’s hard to think of a job that manages to invest in a single reader without relinquishing personal authority.” Glock observed of TS Elliott’s poems: “Among strategic readers, I think there must be many who do not share my taste for crying.” Glock, who wrote about the poet George Open, called him “the master of white space; Restraint, conciseness, prudence ”
All this can be said about her own work. Her poems are restrained and highly charged, restrained, and exposed, fearless and perhaps even fearful of crying. Glock “uses the power of the unfinished” to create an overall that does not lose the dynamic presence of the imperfect remnants: “I do not like poems that seem too finished, the imprint is too tight; I do not like to stand firm. ”
They absolutely open up the space. The voices in her poems rise temporarily and then boldly and sometimes brilliantly from within their rhythms. Gluck knows what it takes when a voice demands honesty. She knows how right it can be and how much dark energy it emits in an attempt to speak. In her poems, the voice itself is contained and expressed. Her work is full of noise, often shouting and whispering, and she explores a difficult consequence or the shape of the soul.
If there is one poem about her great talents and the courage of her voice, it is the opening poem in her Wild Iris collection that begins:
The end of my suffering
There was a door.
I have heard her say that this picture was with her for years before she found a place for it. In the book’s series of poems, Glock follows nature through a distilled verse, a voice full of sympathy and wonder, as well as effort and perseverance. In all of her poems, we get a picture of the world as a battle between ordeal and wonder. There is always a sense that poetry itself is the result of Glock’s struggle for accurate but suggestive words within his own imagination, even for sonorous but hard – working expressions.
It’s hard to think of another living poet whose voice contains so much electrified undercurrent, whose rhythms are under such control, but whose work is so revealing and urgent.