Averno: The Poetry of Louise Glück

My best friend recently introduced me to the poetry of Louise Glück and gave me a copy of her tenth collection, Averno. Averno is a small crater lake near Naples, Italy, that the Romans regarded as the entrance to the underworld. An oversimplification perhaps, but I thought the collection to be another haunting look at the myth of Persephone, who according to my friend, is featured in several other Glück poems. The book’s jacket says “Averno proceeds as a sequence. It is an extended lamentation, its long, restless poems no less spellbinding for being without conventional resolution or consolation, no less ravishing for being savage, grief-stricken.” The language in this poetry is indeed strong and forceful.

I enjoyed the read and determined to study Glück and her poetry more thoroughly in the future, and I will certainly include a few of her poems in the next ENG 102 class I teach in college. I’m also thinking of tying her work to the mythology unit I teach my gifted students.

As an example of Glück’s writing for this blog that might be food for writing thought, I selected this quotation from poem number 6 on page 18: “Scholars tell us / that there is no point in knowing what you want / when the forces contending over you / could kill you.”