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This interview is taken from PN Review 196, Volume 37 Number 2, November - December 2010.

A Conversation with Louise Glück Yvonne Green

I interviewed Louise on Tuesday 24 November 2009 and we began by chatting about Hakan Nesser’s latest detective story. I knew he was a writer she enjoys. ‘Reading Woman with Birthmark1 will be two days of escape from life,’ she said.

YVONNE GREEN: The boundary you create between your poems and your reader seems to me to have the draw of the magnetic field suggested in the final stanza from ‘Lost Love’,2 in Ararat:

…when my sister died,
my mother’s heart became
very cold, very rigid,
like a tiny pendant of iron.

Then it seemed to me my sister’s body
was a magnet. I could feel it draw
my mother’s heart into the earth,
so it would grow.


LOUISE GLÜCK: I haven’t thought of those lines in decades. I have no sense of myself in relation to the reader and I don’t know that the reader is paradigmatic that way. There may be all sorts of modes of relation. It also seems to me that each book reinvents that relation. I may change my mind about this.

I think there’s a language of response in the reader who reads each new venture of yours, or rereads a collection she knows. Let’s look at the other side of my question. Your latest collection is A Village Life.3 Have you left the Village? Does it cease to exist for you? For ...


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