i've long been in search of information on her personal life as not told by poems, and i looked for this where else but the internet, which yielded nothing. then yesterday my friend natalie gave me the best present ever: a personal essay written by louise glück on her life/development as a writer. i purposely say writer instead of poet because as she writes, "'poet' must be used cautiously; it names an aspiration, not an occupation." the essay is full of pithy statements such as this one. also, so you know, it's called "education of the poet" and it's from a book of essays that she published under the title "proofs and theories." this particular essay is the only one i've looked at. the essay was an actual lecture that she delivered at the guggenheim museum in 1989.
personal biography aside, glück gets to some things about the torment known as the writing process:
"it is very strange to want so much what cannot be achieved in life. the high jumper knows, at the instant after performance, how high he has been; his achievement can be measured both immediately and with precision. but for those of us attempting dialogue with the great dead, it isn't a matter of waiting: the judgement we wait for is made by the unborn; we can never in our lifetimes know it.
the profundity of our ignorance concerning the merit of what we do creates despair, it also fuels hope."
i could quote this essay all day at you, but what i'm gonna do instead is just jump ahead to my favorite part and then go to sleep. i think it calls for proper capitalization.
"I remember an argument I had with someone's mother when I was eight or nine; it was her day for carpool duty and our assignment in school had involved composition. I'd written a poem, and was asked to recite it, which I readily did. My special triumph with this poem had involved a metrical reversal in the last line (not that I called it that), an omission of the final rhyme: to my ear it was exhilarating, a kind of explosion of form. The form, of course, was doggerel. In any case, our driver congratulated me: a very good poem, she said, right till the last line, which she then proceeded to rearrange aloud into the order I had explicitly intended to violate. You see, she told me, all that was missing was that last rhyme. I was furious, and especially furious in that I knew my objections would read as defensive response to obvious failure."