Poet Louise Glück Wins Nobel Prize

The extraordinary poet Louise Glück has won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Literature, a very well-deserved honor. The New York Times interviewed her here. The most stunning excerpt from that interview, very telling of the kind of transformative poet she is, is this statement about aging, which she describes as “a new experience” from the point of view of the artist as “an adventurer”:

“You find yourself losing a noun here and there, and your sentences develop these vast lacunae in the middle, and you either have to restructure the sentence or abandon it. But the point is, you see this, and it has never happened before. And though it’s grim and unpleasant and bodes ill, it’s still, from the point of view of the artist, exciting and new.“

Her incredibly prolific body of work is so impressive, it’s hard to choose just one poem, but here is one that was particularly meaningful to me.

The Empty Glass

BY Louise Glück

I asked for much; I received much.
I asked for much; I received little, I received
next to nothing.

And between? A few umbrellas opened indoors.
A pair of shoes by mistake on the kitchen table.

O wrong, wrong—it was my nature. I was
hard-hearted, remote. I was
selfish, rigid to the point of tyranny.

But I was always that person, even in early childhood.
Small, dark-haired, dreaded by the other children.
I never changed. Inside the glass, the abstract
tide of fortune turned
from high to low overnight.

Was it the sea? Responding, maybe,
to celestial force? To be safe,
I prayed. I tried to be a better person.
Soon it seemed to me that what began as terror
and matured into moral narcissism
might have become in fact
actual human growth. Maybe
this is what my friends meant, taking my hand,
telling me they understood
the abuse, the incredible shit I accepted,
implying (so I once thought) I was a little sick
to give so much for so little.
Whereas they meant I was good (clasping my hand intensely)—
a good friend and person, not a creature of pathos.

I was not pathetic! I was writ large,
like a queen or a saint.

Well, it all makes for interesting conjecture.
And it occurs to me that what is crucial is to believe
in effort, to believe some good will come of simply trying,
a good completely untainted by the corrupt initiating impulse
to persuade or seduce—

What are we without this?
Whirling in the dark universe,
alone, afraid, unable to influence fate—

What do we have really?
Sad tricks with ladders and shoes,
tricks with salt, impurely motivated recurring
attempts to build character.
What do we have to appease the great forces?

And I think in the end this was the question
that destroyed Agamemnon, there on the beach,
the Greek ships at the ready, the sea
invisible beyond the serene harbor, the future
lethal, unstable: he was a fool, thinking
it could be controlled. He should have said
I have nothing, I am at your mercy.

My Ghazal, “Delivery,” nominated and selected for the Orison Anthology!

My ghazal “Delivery,” originally published on the wonderful SWWIM website, has now been published in the Orison Anthology, which I now hold in my hands!! SWWIM, which is based in Miami and publishes poetry by women, nominated my poem for the Orison Anthology, a prestigious anthology of spiritual writing which also holds an annual contest for poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. It’s a huge and unexpected honor to have my poem included!! A copy of the Anthology can be purchased here, where you will also find (my name among) the names of contributors, including contest winners.

Amazed and Honored to be Nominated for a Pushcart by Orchards Poetry


In an amazing surprise, I discovered my poem “To a Birch Tree” has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize by Orchards Poetry, Karen Kelsay’s gorgeous poetry online zine which features (though not exclusively) formal poetry. What an honor to be selected among such a formidable group of fine poets!

Yowza! A Prize in the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest

Every year the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, Minnesota, also hosts the Maria W. Faust sonnet contest, the subject of a post on this blog. I submitted several sonnets to the contest, one of which won a prize in the “Laureates” category.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I just received a letter of notification and have been spending serious time on Cloud Nine, definitely a nice cloud to be on. The winning sonnet is “Rain Trance,” which was published on String Poet awhile back, but which I’ll post here too, since a few years have passed.

There will be a Reception and Reading at the festival in Winona on August 2 at 11:00 am when Shakespearean actors will read the winning poems (there are a number of them in different categories).

Rain Trance

I love this constant thrumming on the roof,
wrapping me inside its thick cocoon
of sound, a monastery in the rough.
Percussive chants, these waves refresh the bone,
carry in their very pulse a silence –
not an eye, but a collective calm
whose soft crescendo beckons with its cadence.
Through swells of chattering I hear a psalm.
My sense of place dissolves, the clouding hours
disintegrate, my thoughts – mere whisper-heft –
form solo islands in a sea of choirs.
And who or what am I? And what is left
of this world as I drift away, aloof?
Just a constant thrumming on the roof.