City Paper is not for tourists
“The master said You must write what you see./But what I see does not move me./ The master answered Change what you see.” And so she did. Mixing classical mythology, references to world-lit heavyweights like Dante, Virgil, and Homer, and descriptions of a contemporary landscape that includes such prosaic monuments as the Meadowlands sports complex, Louise Gluck’s poetry cuts a broad swath through life and divorce in New Jersey. Gluck is Homer’s Penelope infused with a modern voice, lyricism, and attitude. She’s a heroine sifting through the pieces of her broken relationship. She’s a weaver of stories of reconciliation and rebirth. And she’s a bullshit crier, calling her ex-husband’s lies and telling him his “heart is empty.” As she writes in “The Golden Bough”: “Even the goddess of love/fights for her children.” She’s the Greek heroine I would want to know—profoundly lonely, deeply confessional, and, somehow, always hopeful. Her newest book, Vita Nova (its title is a play on Dante’s Vita Nuova), blends the fierce longing of The Wild Iris, her 1993 Pulitzer Prize winner, with the mythological playfulness of Meadowlands. Although Vita Nova lacks the ferocity and elegance of The Wild Iris, Gluck still sounds like no one else, writing with a clarity few contemporary poets even come close to achieving. She reads from her poetry at 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 2, at the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Elizabethan Theatre, 201 East Capitol St. SE. $10. (202) 544-7077. (Andrew Katz) NOTE: THESE ARE UNCORRECTED. PLEASE SEE GREENS AND LASERS FOR CORRECTIONS.