Current U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Louise Gluck has been tapped to teach poetry in the Yale English Department for a five-year renewable term beginning this fall, Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead said Wednesday evening.
An English professor at Williams College for the past 20 years, Gluck, 60, will begin teaching at Yale this fall as the Rosencranz writer-in-residence. She has published nine volumes of poetry and in 1993 won a Pulitzer for “The Wild Iris.” In 2001, Yale awarded Gluck its Bollingen Prize in Poetry, an honor given every two years to honor a poet’s lifetime achievement in his or her art.
Gluck, pronounced “Glick,” resides in Cambridge, Mass., but will relocate to New Haven in preparation for the 2004 fall term, when she will teach two poetry courses. Gluck’s appointment is a major coup for the English Department, Brodhead said.
“[Gluck] is one of the two or three great living American poets, and she’s also a passionate teacher and has taught with great success at Williams,” Brodhead, an American literature scholar, said. “She’s not coming here for a visit. She’s coming to make this her base. She’s made it very clear to me that — she’s willing and eager to have lots of contact with student writers and to be a full member of the Yale community.”
Gluck last visited the University in 2002 for a symposium featuring Bollingen-winning poets. She then told the News she was “overwhelmed and honored” for receiving the prize the previous year.
“Anything that Yale asks me to do now, I couldn’t not do,” Gluck said at the event. “I’ve often felt grateful, but I never before felt honored.”
Gluck could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening.
Yale President Richard Levin, who said he especially enjoys Gluck’s 1996 book “Meadowlands,” said Gluck’s appointment is “fabulous” for the University.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for Yale students to have such a brilliant poet as a teacher,” Levin said.
English major Nicole Dixon ’04, an editor with the Yale Literary Magazine, said she thinks Gluck’s appointment strengthens Yale’s poetry faculty.
“I’m just really jealous that I won’t be able to take a class with her,” Dixon said. “It’s really exciting that she’s in a public position and decided to come here.”
English professor Langdon Hammer said he thinks Gluck will continue writing poetry and editing anthologies while at Yale.
“[Gluck] has combined the art of biographical mode of American professional poetry with a symbolist and mythological tradition in a way that has created a very new and individual body of work,” Hammer said.
Yale’s English Department has traditionally been a stronghold for poetry, with the famed J.D. McClatchy among its faculty.
“Strong poets are always sought after, and it’s never easy to recruit the best faculty to Yale because everybody wants the same people,” Yale College Associate Dean Penelope Laurans, an English poetry professor, said.
Gluck was born in New York in 1943 and grew up on Long Island. Her father invented the X-Acto knife, the Washington Post reported in August.
As a young girl, Gluck began writing poetry, but she also became severely anorexic. Psychoanalysis she underwent as a result of her eating disorder “taught [her] to think,” she told the Post. Gluck, who attended Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University but did not receive a degree from either, is known for her confessional, autobiographical style.
As U.S. Poet Laureate, Gluck holds an office in the Library of Congress and is expected to conduct and organize three events at the Library. Previous Poets Laureate include Robert Frost, Gwendolyn Brooks and Rita Dove. The office’s official title is U.S. Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.