PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
Digital Access to PN Review
Access the latest issues, plus back issues of PN Review with Exact Editions For PN Review subscribers: to access the PN Review digital archive via the Exact Editions app Exactly or the Exact Editions website, you will first need to know your PN Review ID number. read more
PN Review Prize winners announced
Carcanet Press and PN Review are delighted to announce the winners of the first ever PN Review Prize. read more
Most Read... Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Drew MilneTom Raworth’s Writing
‘present past improved’: Tom Raworth’s Writing

(PN Review 236)
Alejandro Fernandez-OsorioPomace (trans. James Womack)
(PN Review 236)
Kei MillerIn the Shadow of Derek Walcott

(PN Review 235)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Kate BinghamPuddle
(PN Review 236)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Gratis Ad 1
Gratis Ad 2
Next Issue CELEBRATING JOHN ASHBERY Contributors include Mark Ford, Marina Warner, Jeremy Over, Theophilus Kwek, Sam Riviere, Luke Kennard, Philip Terry,Agnes Lehoczky, Emily Critchley, Oli Hazard and others Miles Champion The Gold Standard Rebecca Watts The Cult of the Noble Amateur Marina Tsvetaeva ‘My desire has the features of a woman’: Two Letters translated by Christopher Whyte Iain Bamforth Black and White

This review is taken from PN Review 203, Volume 38 Number 3, January - February 2012.

PANORAMIC, CASUAL, UNBEAUTIFUL louise glück, A Village Life (Carcanet) £8.96

Louise Glück concluded her 1999 book, Vita Nova, with these lines:

I thought my life was over and my heart was broken.
Then I moved to Cambridge.

That simple statement, in unadorned, direct address, was a consummation of the book it closed, and also of the one that had preceded it, Meadowlands. It was a landmark in the writer's style, as it suggests it was in her life.

The two books that followed were written from that new life. In an interview with Dana Levin (read online at:, Glück said she found herself in another of the long periods of not writing which she described in her collection of essays, Proofs and Theories (1996). As she emerged from that time, she began to discover the form of her next collection, which has now reached publication as A Village Life: 'I had done everything I could do at the moment with poems operating on a vertical axis of transcendence and grief. And this new manuscript had to be more panoramic, somehow, and casual, with a kind of unbeautiful surface.' The idea of a village life suggests a smaller purview, more intimate, perhaps less sophisticated. The title calls to mind the Japanese masters - Ryōkan, Bashō - and their poems written from the margins (the book's cover image, a print by an unknown Japanese artist, reinforces this association).

The village starts to take shape in the opening poem, 'Twilight', ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image