American poet Louise Gluck wins 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature
American poet Louise Gluck has been awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature. Gluck, who is also a professor of English at Yale University, won the prize for her "unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal," the Swedish Academy said on Thursday. Gluck has become the first American woman in 27 years to win the prize after Toni Morrison.
The Academy's Permanent Secretary Mats Malm said that he had spoken to Gluck shortly before making the announcement. He said the message came as a surprise to Gluck, "but a welcome one as far as I could tell." Gluck has previously won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for her collection The Wild Iris, and the National Book Award in 2014.
Born in 1943, Gluck made her debut in 1968 with Firstborn. She was soon acclaimed as one of the most prominent poets in American contemporary literature. She found a growing audience in the United States, and around the globe, with collections like The Triumph of Achilles (1985) and Ararat (1990). She has published twelve collections of poetry and some volumes of essays on poetry.
Her poetry collections are characterized by a "striving for clarity," the Academy noted. It said, "Childhood and family life, the close relationship with parents and siblings, is a thematic that has remained central with her. In her poems, the self listens for what is left of its dreams and delusions, and nobody can be harder than she in confronting the illusions of the self."
Last year, the Academy had announced two winners, after it postponed the 2018 prize amid a controversy surrounding a sexual assault scandal involving the husband of one of its members. 2019 winner Peter Handke also invited criticism due to his support for Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic in the Balkan wars. He has also portrayed Serbia as a victim during the wars.
Further, the 2016 prize, awarded to American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, also drew criticism since the award is usually conferred to novelists and playwrights. Dylan had won "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."
Nobel prizes for Medicine, Physics, and Chemistry were awarded earlier this week, and the Peace prize is to be announced on Friday. The Nobel prize-giving ceremony held each December in Stockholm has been canceled in light of the coronavirus pandemic. A televised event will be held instead and the winners will receive the honors in their home countries.