Happy birthday, Louise Glück! 76, today! Here are some quotes from the writer.
“Poetry survives because it haunts and it haunts because it is simultaneously utterly clear and deeply mysterious; because it cannot be entirely accounted for, it cannot be exhausted.”
“It seems to me that the desire to make art produces an ongoing experience of longing, a restlessness sometimes, but not inevitably, played out romantically, or sexually. Always there seems something ahead, the next poem or story, visible, at least, apprehensible, but unreachable. To perceive it at all is to be haunted by it; some sound, some tone, becomes a torment—the poem embodying that sound seems to exist somewhere already finished. It’s like a lighthouse, except that, as one swims towards it, it backs away.”
“Writing is a kind of revenge against circumstance too: bad luck, loss, pain. If you make something out of it, then you’ve no longer been bested by these events.”
“I feel quite passionately that the degree to which I have, if I have, stayed alive as a writer and changed as a writer, owes much to the intensity with which I’ve immersed myself in the work, sometimes very alien work, of people younger than I, people making sounds I haven’t heard. That’s what I need to know about.”
“I never think of audience. I hate that word. I think of a reader. I think my poems want a reader, and they’re completed by a reader. But it’s the single reader, and whether that person exists in multiple or not makes no spiritual difference, though it has practical impact. What matters to me is the reader’s subtlety and depth of response and whether these prove durable. The idea of enlarging the audience for poetry seems to me ludicrous.”
“I think the poem is a communication between a mouth and an ear—not an actual mouth and an actual ear, but a mind that sends a message and a mind that receives it. For me, the aural experience of a poem is transmitted visually. I hear with my eyes and dislike reading aloud and (except on very rare occasions) being read to. The poem becomes, when read aloud, a much simpler, sequential shape: the web becomes a one-way street. In any case, the knowledge, or hope, that the reader exists is a great solace.”
“I’ve always thought what I wanted to do was to get as many tones as you can possibly get onto the page and shift gears. I like poems that do that, so that you think you’re reading one poem and then you’re reading another poem and then you’re reading another poem. I like that. Not every line, so that every line is another non sequitur. But when I think of some of the operas that I love best they’re the ones that have that spaciousness, that generosity and humor, and at the same time they’re wrenching.”
John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.