Louise Gluck | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Louise Gluck

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To study the disintegration of a marriage through the lens of wandering Odysseus and stuck-at-home Penelope is hardly original. But why strive for novelty when there are still riches to be mined from the same old story? "Such a mistake to want / clarity above all things," Louise Gluck chides herself early in Meadowlands, her 1996 collection. But that book-length sequence of poems actively courts such clarification, as Gluck seeks to balance the passion and responsibility of love, the security and irritation of marriage. Swinging between a contemporary couple driving each other nuts and those bronze and tragic Greeks, she creates an impressive whole, even if it is something more like a domestic novel than a Homeric epic. Gluck is a lyricist, and her finest moments are among the Ithacans--Penelope bent to her loom, an insane pride building within her; Odysseus leaving Circe and returning to his ship and his duty, when "Time / begins now, in which he hears again / that pulse which is the narrative / sea." The same careful accretion of image, emotion, and idea--Apollonian for sure, but never icy--copped her a Pulitzer in 1993 for The Wild Iris, and she's now wrapping up a year as U.S. poet laureate. She'll be introduced at this Poetry Center of Chicago event by new Illinois poet laureate Kevin Stein. a Wed 9/29, 6:30 PM, School of the Art Institute, 112 S. Michigan, 312-899-1229, $10.

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