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Averno: Poems

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  1,477 Ratings  ·  102 Reviews
Averno is a small crater lake in southern , regarded by the ancient Romans as the entrance to the underworld. That place gives its name to Louise Glück's eleventh collection: in a landscape turned irretrievably to winter, it is the only source of heat and light, a gate or passageway that invites traffic between worlds while at the same time opposing their reconciliation. A ...more
ebook, 96 pages
Published July 8th 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,752)
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beauregard
Mar 27, 2008 beauregard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Prism
Louise Gluck

1.
Who can say what the world is? The world
is in flux, therefore
unreadable, the winds shifting,
the great plates invisibly shifting and changing-


2.
Dirt. Fragments
of blistered rock. On which
the exposed heart constructs
a house, memory: the gardens
manageable, small in scale, the beds
damp at the sea's edge-


3.
As one takes in
an enemy, through these windows
one takes in
the world:

here is the kitchen, here the darkened study.

Meaning: I am master here.


4.
When you fall in love, my sister said,
...more
Nicola
Sep 01, 2009 Nicola rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
That Gluck voice. Keep trying to understand why it has such a vulnerable authority, like someone wielding a dagger then using it to offer you a piece of fruit. A voice poised between challenge and cowering, distance and closeness, indifference and intimacy. In “Prism,” it’s the daughters “assignment” to fall in love; an improper “vaccination” leads to passion, desire and the search for love; the lover is “the stranger” in the shock of “the first dawn.” There’s a lot of attempt at dichotomy: of b ...more
Babble
Mar 20, 2008 Babble rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People with a passion for contemporary poetry
Shelves: poetry

I preface this by saying I am a huge fan of Louise Gluck's poetry - she'd have to fall a long way for me to not consider her breathtaking, amazing, articulately intense - a creative flame. Averno is no exception to her previous work I have read.

Averno; again, elegant, emotive writing that frequently looks sparse upon the page and yet is dense with meaning, possibility, passion!

I was taken by her Persephone poems, in particular, A Myth of Devotion [p 58]...

He (Hades) wants to say, I love you, not
...more
Abraham Hyatt
Mar 21, 2010 Abraham Hyatt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I couldn't say it better than this. From The NYTBR:

"Far from the dull outposts where American poets have become willfully obscure or adopted antique models to assemble poems of scant content, poets like Glück are tapping the wellsprings of myth, collective and personal, to fuel their imaginations and, with hard-earned clarity and subtle music, to struggle with some of our oldest, most intractable fears — isolation and oblivion, the dissolution of love, the failure of memory, the breakdown of th
...more
Bryant
Feb 15, 2008 Bryant rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Averno is as bracing and clean and as perfect as the stark scherzos of winter evoked by Louise Glück. The poet explores, with moments of splintering incision, the myths of Persephone, the difficulty of reconciling the dying body to an earth that itself seems at once death-bound (headed for winter) yet renewable (headed for summer), and the strange regions that the soul fitfully inhabits in a world devoid of comfort or faith ("weren't we necessary to the earth"?)

This redoubtable collection gives
...more
Robert Beveridge
Louise Gluck, Averno Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2006)

I've never been entirely sure what to think of the work of Louise Gluck; Averno, however, has certainly tipped the balance into the “dislike” bucket. When she is good, she is very, very good; when she is bad, however, you get stuff like this:

“'You girls,' my mother said, 'should marry
someone like your father.'

That was one remark. Another was,
'There is no one like your father.'”
(“Prism”)

As pithy as the wisdom may be, the poetry is entirely abs
...more
Amelia
May 11, 2016 Amelia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm writing my senior thesis on this book. Yes, I like it a lot. (read 25+ times )

done with my thesis- so this book is going far away for awhile.
Sean Endymion
Feb 23, 2012 Sean Endymion rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is what I hate about poetry.

Ha! Well, I’m done!

No, really, *Averno* started with significant promise – using an established mythos to analogize human growth and the confrontation with death in an evolved secular society. She does well with the “Persephone” poems [reminds me of a poem by Wendy Barker] in that her poetry tells a somewhat coherent story that transports the reader to the place and allows the reader to become emotionally invested. Lines like “It is snowing on Earth; the cold win
...more
Gwen
Nov 07, 2009 Gwen marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Gwen by: Maureen McLane Washington Post 7/2/06
From Maureen McLane's Washington Post review 7/2/06:

Reading [Louise Gluck:] is excruciating -- and this is a compliment. A poet of taut intensities, she walks a high-wire between the oracular and everyday, the absolute and the ephemeral, the monumental and the delicate. In her latest book, Gluck ushers us into the realm of the dead: Averno is the lake west of Naples that, according to the Romans, was the entrance to the Underworld. Taking up the myth of Persephone -- the at story of Demeter's da
...more
Keeley
Mar 15, 2010 Keeley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: poetryanddrama
This was a really irritating collection of poems. Some are tolerable -- e.g. "Persephone the Wanderer." Others, like "Archaic Fragment," made me wonder if it's wrong to desire to punch a book. Most were just wastes of space: pages full of three-word lines in two-line paragraphs in multi-section poems, each poem just over a page, so that a total of some hundred words might take five or six pages. This would be ok if there were a haiku-like density in the expressive language thus presented. Instea ...more
H
"October" and "Averno" are the absolute heights of Gluck's lyric abilities: charged, wise, haunting, full of truth. This is one of those must-haves on the shelf I always return to.

They wink at each other;
listen to the old one, talking about the spirit
because he can't remember anymore the word for chair.

It is terrible to be alone.
I don't mean to live alone--
to be alone, where no one hears you.

I remember the word for chair.
I want to say--I'm just not interested anymore.

I wake up thinking
you have t
...more
Chelsea
Feb 08, 2016 Chelsea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, 2016, poetry
she knows
Penney
Jun 26, 2014 Penney rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Glück has been a solid poetic voice for me for years. Although the poems in this collection do fit the Averno / underworld theme exquisitely well, and the retelling of well-known mythological stories (Persephone, for example) in the vein of modern cut-to-the-quick images and lines, I'm left feeling a longing. The only time Glück's voice truly shines, and we hear her breaking through the ice of an old, dead tale, are two stanzas from 'Persephone the Wanderer':

You drift between earth and death
whi
...more
Yuridiana
Sep 24, 2016 Yuridiana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, mythology
The Myth of Innocence

One summer she goes into the field as usual
stopping for a bit at the pool where she often
looks at herself, to see
if she detects any changes. She sees
the same person, the horrible mantle
of daughterliness still clinging to her.

The sun seems, in the water, very close.
That’s my uncle spying again, she thinks—
everything in nature is in some way her relative.
I am never alone, she thinks,
turning the thought into a prayer.
Then death appears, like the answer to a prayer.

No one under
...more
Diann Blakely
In 2007, Gluck published this brilliant retelling of the Persephone myth, and had a new book of essays from the University of Michigan devoted to her work appear, with contributions by Frank Bidart, Stephen Burt, Bonnie Costello, and Wayne Koestenbaum, It's still on my "to-read" shelf, but if ON READING LOUISE GLUCK approaches the heights of PROOFS AND THEORIES, it will be a definite "keeper."
Christopher Alonso
Mar 07, 2015 Christopher Alonso rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I'm so glad I read this. Many of these poems are inspired by the myth of Hades and Persephone and the consequences that resulted from that. Glück has some sharp, killer lines in here. I'm not used to reviewing poetry, but I think if reading a line makes you stop and think about it for a while, then the writer did what they wanted you to.
Bonnie
Sep 01, 2009 Bonnie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
In the summer of 2003 Gluck's poem "Prism" was published in the New Yorker....it so moved me I tore it out and have carted it around on my person for nearly five years. And now here it is like a jewel in a crown of many-- this collection is breathtaking.
Margaryta
I absolutely loved this poetry collection. It was by far the most relaxing and, simultaneously, thought provoking compilation I've picked up.

True to its summary, Averno covers the topics of the human soul and death, both perfectly intertwined, with poems about Hades and Persephone sprinkled within to add a rich tone to the work. Although the poems about the two gods followed the familiar story line the poems took it to a whole new level, making it such a haunting read. I can't pick a favorite po
...more
Liam
Aug 23, 2010 Liam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Based on the Myth of Persephone the poems keep reminding us of what death and winter do to us to make us yearn for spring and life. We shouldn't be afraid of death as the soul has married itself to the body instead of to death.
secondwomn
Feb 11, 2015 secondwomn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007, poetry, reread, 2015
inspired to buy more poetry and deeply in love with louise gluck. reminded of this love by seeing her read a couple times in the past three months.
Sean
Feb 18, 2016 Sean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wind has come and gone, taking apart the mind;
it has left in its wake a strange lucidity.
Leif
Dec 27, 2015 Leif rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What's amazing here isn't the conceit – a linked chain of mothers and daughters and fathers and betrayals: the burning field, the burning desire, the bargain of Hades –but the sublime traces of Grecian design that trace brilliant arcs while carving out a yearning hollow: all surfaces and broken images, Glück makes shapes where none exist. In those shapes the flickering subject dances on thought: not a mournful and wounded woman, but one who acts and possesses desire, and is thus acted on and pos ...more
Chaneli
Oct 14, 2015 Chaneli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
so much goodness, so much goodness...
i'm so happy i read this and i just need more... more
Christina Olivares
Aug 31, 2012 Christina Olivares rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
love!

My soul
shattered with the strain
of trying to belong to earth--

(p 19)

she's great.
Heather
Apr 29, 2009 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books, poetry
At the start of this book we learn this: “Averno. Ancient name Avernus. A small crater lake, ten miles west of Naples, Italy; regarded by the ancient Romans as the entrance to the underworld.” This collection of linked poems is about passing between worlds: childhood and adulthood, death and life, existence and memory, and seasons, too; it uses the myth of Persephone to play with some of those passings. I like the mix of mythic and not, lines like this, about riding the subway and reading: “you ...more
Candice
Oct 14, 2012 Candice rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Genre: Junior Book, Poetry

Summary: The name Averno comes from Lake Avernus, which is supposed to be a direct link to the underworld. Going with this trend, the book takes the reader through the different stages of life.

A. Averno's book of poems are excessively rich with meaning and purpose, however the intended audience may be unwilling or uninterested in this form of poetry.

B. As an adult reader I find the poetry beautiful, elegant, and thought provoking, but for younger readers the poems may
...more
Andrea
Mar 09, 2013 Andrea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary, poetry
Louise Gluck has written an exceptional collection of poetry. There is no question as to why she has won a Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a poet laureate of the United States. Her work may be seemingly about ordinary things yet she glimpses at them in a poetic language that makes one think deeply upon the subject matter. For example I give you an excerpt from the poem "TELESCOPE" on page 71 of this beautiful volume of poetry:

"There is a moment after you move you
...more
Adrianne Mathiowetz
This is a lovely book. But:

1.) There's something about the word "soul" that really grates on my poetic sensibilities -- it's weighted and politically/religiously-charged, and yet its definition is so vague it renders the word meaningless, maybe. Or that it reminds me too much of unshowered teenagers.

Anyway, she uses it constantly. Like in this entirely wretched stanza (which ends an otherwise wonderful poem):

To such endless impressions
we poets give ourselves absolutely,
making, in silence, omen
...more
alyssa carver
Nov 15, 2014 alyssa carver rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
at first, upon eagerly opening this volume, i thought "uh-oh" when i saw all the LONG poems. generally, i don't really get why any poem should ever be more than a page or two. but the very long poems in 'averno' are made up of numbered sections that read like a collection of normal-sized poems. they are connected, of course, but louise gluck has made a habit of writing entire volumes of connected, thematically-grouped poems, so what's the difference? this is one of many things i don't really und ...more
Shannon
Apr 04, 2015 Shannon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This collection of poems breathes with unstoppable power. I found myself rereading words in relished awe. Glück's images, such as in "Landscape" resonate with a haunting originality that offers a fresh new look at human struggle with mortality. She revisits the theme of Persephone and Hades in several poems, so I would recommend reading that myth, if you are not already familiar with it, before reading Averno. Glück is a master poet, easily a new favorite.
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Glück was born in New York City of Hungarian Jewish heritage and grew up on Long Island. Glück attended Sarah Lawrence College and later Columbia University.

Glück is the author of twelve books of poetry, including: "A Village Life" (2009); Averno (2006), which was a finalist for The National Book Award; The Seven Ages (2001); Vita Nova (1999), which was awarded The New Yorker's Book Award in Poetr
...more
More about Louise Glück...

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“I think I can remember
being dead. Many times, in winter,
I approached Zeus. Tell me, I would ask him,
how can I endure the earth?”
16 likes
Come to me said the world. I was standing
in my wool coat at a kind of bright portal—
I can finally say
long ago; it gives me considerable pleasure. Beauty
the healer, the teacher—

death cannot harm me
more than you have harmed me,
my beloved life.”
11 likes
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