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A Village Life

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  368 ratings  ·  50 reviews
A Village Life, Louise Glück’s eleventh collection of poems, begins in the topography of a village, a Mediterranean world of no definite moment or place:

All the roads in the village unite at the fountain.

Avenue of Liberty, Avenue of the Acacia Trees—

The fountain rises at the center of the plaza;

on sunny days, rainbows in the piss of the cherub.

—from “tributaries”

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Hardcover, 80 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Jeremy Allan
I can understand (most of) the critiques I've heard / read about this book so far. Still, Glück remains a poet with the ability to move me, even in the midst of her obsessions. While individual poems rarely stand apart in my mind, I always find myself at home in the steady accumulation of her lines, both across pages and across books. Read Glück not for flash, but for mastery.
James Murphy
Though I look forward to and eagerly buy each new volume of Gluck's poetry, I have a little trouble expressing why I like it so much. A Gluck poem draws your attention instantly because it confidently strides from its beginning to its clear and convincing resolution. A Gluck poem has a certain formal respectability you come to expect. While she doesn't bend the verbal rules or hammer new forms that glow with creation, neither would she, I don't think, write about a red dress in a honkytonk. Not ...more
Derek Emerson
Louise Gluck's A Village Life will continue Gluck's leading role in American poetry, although it presents a more narrative style than her earlier work. We are presented with a unnamed, vaguely Mediterranean setting in an unclear time. In other words, the focus here is on the people.

The theme is familiar, but Gluck's presentation is unique. Here people, you and old, are faced with the reality that life moves forward whether they are ready or not. Indeed, our own choices may move the direction sli
Interesting passages.

To my mind, you're better off if you stay; that way, dreams don't damage you.

They know that at some point you stop being children, and at that point you become strangers. It seems unbearably lonely.

Better look at the fields now, see how they look before they're flooded.

She will withdraw into that private world of feeling/ women enter when they love. And living there, she will become/ like a person who casts no shadow, who is not present in the world;/ in that sense, so l
I just absolutely fell in love with this book. The poetry is structured in such a way that it reads almost like a story. But, taken in bits and pieces it is just as intense.

Every time I read it I can see, so clearly, the mountain. The dark dirt, cold under the shadows of the trees. The inhabitants in their lives, their houses.

It's, it's just wonderful. Just the image on the cover is a preview of what lies within - foggy nights, cool afternoons with the dark walk home through the bramble, all alo
Ann Cefola
Glück has this amazing ability to capture the felt sense of childhood, adolescence and adulthood, and the uneasy passages in between. This is a book of a poet looking back and remembering, and making concrete the loss as we leap from one time period to the next. There is a lot of Vermont, where she lives, in this book, especially the four poems "Burning Leaves" which Vermonters still do...burn wood, leaves, whatever; and the mountain views. The poetry feels both easy and earned. Brava!
A surprising book from this exceptional poet, who usually works in a more concise, oracular mode. These empathetic poems depicting life in an unnamed village have a sensual, earthy, conversational quality, new to her work--reminiscent of the early 20th century Italian poet, Cesare Pavese. Among its strengths, A Village Life contains some of the best poems on adolescence that I've ever read.
Luis Correa
Elegant. SO FUCKING ELEGANT. The poems and themes and images repeat themselves, but intentionally! AND SO GODDAMN ELEGANTLY. Straddling the fine line between vignettes and poems—maybe at times a little too prosaic, I guess. The music's in the meditation.
Molly Brodak
Obviously, Gluck is supremely talented. Still, I think she should just go ahead and write a novel if that's what she wants to do. I can't help but feel that a hybrid--just like my road/mountain bike hybrid-- doesn't do either job particularly well.
V Mignon
"Nothing proves I'm alive.
There is only the rain, the rain is endless."

- Solitude

I saw a quote once, on the nature of writing, and I lack the name of whoever must have said it (which seems to be a common case these days), but it went as paraphrased: "Academic writing requires complex language to express simple thoughts. Creative writing requires simple language to express complex thoughts." While the thoughts expressed in academic writing are never that "simple," it is often the thoughts we take
Hard to tell if I am just too sensationalized as a reader or if this book is lacking in real interest. It is a worthy project: take a town (mythic? Real? American?) and render it in a series of poems and portraits of the inhabitants. The poems tell no story but come back to the same images (like that of sitting in the window and looking out) several times, each return investing them with a new intensity and the sense that the things mentioned are deeply structural to the town (village) being dra ...more
A Village Life is a collection of poems from different points of view, different voices. Male, female, young and old, they are all here. And, no matter their marital status. No matter the size of their families. They are all suffering from loneliness.

It isn't every poet who can successfully get into the heads of different personas, speak with the voices of different genders, races, etc, but Gluck pulls it off. Unlike fiction, poetry doesn't offer the luxury of space and time to build up backsto
The cover mentioned that this was a more narrative set of poetry, so I guess I can't criticize it too much for being what it is, but... well, I'm going to. This collection is missing a certain tightness, or... carefulness of language that for me very much defines good poetry. I want each word to have a purpose, a weight. Who was it said, "I wouldn't said it in fewer words if I'd had more time?" In choosing to write more prosaically, she loses a lot of the benefits of the genre. This was actually ...more
It must be hard after writing so many books to write yet another. It also must be hard to be always compared to "The Wild Iris." This book feels like a far cry from that earlier one with its intentionally "muddy," "novelistic" surface. But Gluck is still a visionary writer, with a strong emphasis on the mind and its workings. Some people don't respond well to the controlling, "anorexic" quality of Gluck's vision, but it's hard to deny that she is a visionary poet. There's an authority to her voi ...more
Louise Glück is one of our crucial American poets. When The Triumph of Achilles appeared in 1985, I read it, along with the first three books, in one obsessional moment, and she's been the news ever since. Excellent as they are (the debut, Firstborn slightly apprenticey), Ararat and The Wild Iris (1990 and 1992, respectively) are a kind of high point for me, and the subsequent four collections not without power but certainly not of the same interest as this current collection, which wants to be ...more
Kevin Brown
I tend to like narrative poems, so I like Gluck's attempt to create a village (or a village life) from her poems, crafting characters and stories in this book. I also like her reoccuring motifs, such as the bats or the burning leaves, that help tie the connection together. However, I thought some of her poems were more prose-like than poetic, which weakened them. The main complaint, though, that I had of this collection is that it didn't do what poetry should do, which is help us to see the ordi ...more
Larry Kaplun
This book knocked me off my feet, with the gentleness and subtlety of its beauty, the way simpleness in her poems is so full, and God, the way she trusts the reader! I think every poem demonstrates an amazing craft. Maybe half the poems (or more) have this long, trailing, expansiveness, in an entirely different way than say Mark Doty makes expansive poems. But the thing about Gluck is she's not holding a hammer over your head. The narratives are clear, yah, but the method is Like tha ...more
Aug 02, 2013 SA rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
Gluck is, if not my favorite poet, certainly in the top tier. She writes so vividly; this was actually her wordiest volume, I believe, in terms of prose lines instead of the spareness that tends to convey her work.

This is very much a collection of poems that flow when read together; it was kind of like a poetic reality show, seeing all these different personae and personalities living in or around the village.

Her recurring theme of burning leaves acts almost like a transitional gate through wh
Colin Bailes
The structure and style of the poems in A Village Life are not what one expects when thinking of poetry. These poems are brilliantly crafted narratives with long sentence structures that read more like prose than poetry. Elements of poetry are still evident in them, however. Gluck provides beautiful imagery and metaphor to describe the mundane yet profound life of the country. The collection contains recurring images: the mountain, windows, and water. Lurking between the lines of every poem is t ...more
Very beautiful - a long kind of narrative poem split up into a bunch of separate scenes.
Master at work! Fine poetry! I look up to her
My mama asked for this for Xmas and I read it before I wrapped it. Maybe it's the intelligibilty, the images, the insight, the complete lack of formal obtusity or other idiocies, but this very beautifully made book slowed my pulse as I read in bed and set me down easy into a minutely more open-eyed life. Will try to read more of her and more of this poetry stuff in general. When it's good, it feels like an ancient homeopathic treatment administered visually and tactilely to brain and body. Ah, e ...more
The strength of this collection, for me, lies in the uniting theme: the village. It's outlines shift a bit from poem to poem, but there's a consistent, building sense of home (from "Midsummer": "You will leave the village where you were born/ and in another country you'll become very rich, very powerful,/ but always you will mourn something you left behind, even though you/ can't say what it was,/ and eventually you will return to seek it.")
Apparently this isn't representative of her work, but I can't help but feel that this is poetry for the middleaged. I like the idea of the collection, many of the images, the way she invokes nostalgia etc but I just feel this is suited to an older reader who is more tired/bored with life. Most of these poems just don't seem to speak to me personally.

Will try more of her poetry later though.
One of my favorite books of poetry yet. The story lines and the themes recur throughout this work, almost as though it's a novel in poetic pieces.
i'm probably being too hard on this book because it's louise gluck (and the standards are absurdly high for me), but it falters a little more than previous collections. i'd give it 3.7 stars if i could.

"Once the rat screams, it's dead. That scream is like a map:
it tells the cat where to find the throat."
Aug 26, 2014 !Tæmbuŝu marked it as unread-hard-wif-ecopies-eng  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3965p-box5
Meryl Natchez
Louise Gluck imagines a village and makes it come alive. It's not primarily a happy place, but one filled with dark shadows and menace. Fires burn, bodies age. But poem after poem, the village comes to life. The language is simple yet deceptively powerful. A book poets and non-poets can relish.
a strong start, a strong finish, and a bit of a muddle in between. this is not as consistently amazing as some of her other books, but there are a good number of poems in here that really blew me away. "tributaries," "crossroads," and the first "earthworms" are still very vivid to me.
Take this review with a grain of salt. I don't read poetry very often. Also, it was a week that flew by and I struggled to read for one reason or another. But I liked the matter of fact language of Gluck's writing - and a few of the poems were beautiful to me. Many were sad.
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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 about Louise Glück...
The Wild Iris Averno The First Four Books of Poems Meadowlands Ararat

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