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4.02  ·  Rating Details  ·  603 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews

About the Author:
Louise Glück won the Pulitzer Prize for The Wild Iris in 1993. The author of eight books of poetry and one collection of essays, Proofs and Theories: Essays on Poetry, she has received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, the William Carlos Williams Award, and the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Nonfiction. She was named the next U.S. poet laure

Paperback, 72 pages
Published June 21st 1992 by Ecco (first published June 1st 1992)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 973)
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Feb 08, 2015 Hadrian rated it really liked it
Shelves: american, poetry
Intense poetry. Less so much about landscapes like in Averno but in the immense feelings of families and loss.
Nov 23, 2012 Kathleen rated it really liked it
I simply don't know how to assign "stars" to a volume of poetry. I read this book almost straight through, with a pounding heart. Gluck is personal, devastating, terse and focused. From "Terminal Resemblance," about the last time she saw her dying father:

"When the taxi came, my parents watched from the front door,
arm in arm, my mother blowing kisses as she always does,
because it frightens her when a hand isn't being used.
But for a change, my father didn't just stand there.
This time, he waved.
Jul 21, 2011 Jamie rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, read-in-2011
I can't seem to figure if Gluck is my cup o'tea. At times, I find her economy of language a welcome relief from the poetry I tend to read; at others, I think that trick works as a rabbit in the hat for her to rely on. Generally speaking, of the two collections I've read--this and The Wild Iris--they work, on the whole, but the poems are not, in an individual sense, particularly memorable.

This centers on the loss of a father; a renewed consciousness of the (now-widowed) mother; the difficult and
Sherry Chandler
Dec 05, 2014 Sherry Chandler rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thepoets
Letting my thoughts wander around the experience of reading Ararat, I found several equally enticing approaches to this review.

I could, for example, say I grew up in a poor county in a poor state where kids were expected to work in the fields and forgo school when there was work to be done, where the school year was kept to 8 months so the boys could help in setting, housing, and stripping the tobacco crop. Nobody had time to analyze the finer feelings of sibling rivalry, so why should I give a
Bryony Rose
Oct 31, 2015 Bryony Rose rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
"I thought/ that pain meant/ I was not loved./ It meant I loved."
Sep 01, 2009 Leanna rated it liked it
Very autobiographical, about her family, often about the deaths of her sister and father.

As with "Descending Figure," I enjoyed the spareness of the language in the book, as well as some interesting metaphors: her framing of new widows and new orphans as being "born" into a different life was a thought-provoking treatment of birth and death; her metaphor that her dead sister's buried body is a magnet for her mother's heart was stunning; and her complicated image of a magnifying glass and a flowe
Sep 04, 2009 Nicola rated it liked it
If this were another poet, I would be more impressed. But Gluck ups her own ante, through such works as "The Wild Iris" and "Averno." This collection hit harder than "The Seven Ages," but, ultimately, lacked the complexity and ingenuity of her later work. Despite its many reversals--for example, the mother being divided instead of the baby in her re-writing of the King Solomon tale--this collection felt too straightforward. The epigraph from Plato on the origins of love greatly enhanced the coll ...more
alyssa carver
Dec 11, 2008 alyssa carver rated it liked it
so, it took me forever to find this volume, and i was shocked to discover i don't like it as much as i thought i would. or,at least, i don't love all of it as much as i LOVE the last poem (First Memory), which has been a longtime favorite. it's just not as sophisticated as her later works. but maybe nothing's ever that sophisticated when we are examining our childhoods, relationships with parents and siblings and so on. it's very accessible compared to some of her other books, and it's still goo ...more
Jan 18, 2016 Daniel rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Really not her best work.
Sep 24, 2015 Myles rated it it was amazing
Terminal Resemblance

When I saw my father for the last time, we both did the same thing.
He was standing in the doorway to the living room,
waiting for me to get off the telephone.
That he wasn't also pointing to his watch
was a signal he wanted to talk.

Talk for us always meant the same thing.
He'd say a few words. I'd say a few back.
That was about it.

It was the end of August, very hot, very humid.
Next door, workmen dumped new gravel on the driveway.

My father and I avoided being alone;
we didn't know
Oct 17, 2014 Christine rated it it was amazing

This is a great book - the first I have read by Louise Gluck.

It was also the only one left on the shelf at the library following her nomination for "book of the year" for "Faithful and Virtuous Night" which I will have to wait to read.

In this book - she is very honest in her experiences.

I can feel her drawing up buckets from a deep well of "loneliness" and "not enough."

She contrasts her childhood experience against that of her own as (now) a mother, and also as viewed through her perspective of
Apr 27, 2015 Matthew rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
"The man who writes about himself and his own time is the only man who writes about all people and all time."
- George Bernard Shaw

Just as G. B. Shaw's man writes about all people and all time, Glück writes about all families in this personal portrait of her family. Like her previous collections, Glück's poetry is preoccupied with family and death. The poems yielded by this subject matter, however, is not what the reader may expect. She writes about death without succumbing to morbidity. She wri
Jan 02, 2014 Rick rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Ararat was published in 1990 and Gluck has gone on to publish a number of fine collections since that I have enjoyed, and Ararat certainly belongs in the company of the best of what came after it (including The Wild Iris, 1992, Meadowlands, 1997, Vita Nova, 1999, and The Seven Ages, 2001).

Ararat examines the complex, formative nature of familial love. The verb examine is appropriate. There is something clinical but not detached, because there is an intensity about her probing, in the poems’ pre
Mar 28, 2014 Helen rated it really liked it
Louise Gluck's book Ararat is a book of poetry about family. The most powerful of these are the poems that explore the relationship between mother and child. There are poems about the poet's relationship with her mother, her relationship with her son, and the difference in parenting styles between herself and her sister. The poems that relate to a daughter born to her mother who died in infancy are the most powerful. Not only do they address a mother's coming to terms with grief, but also the su ...more
Apr 04, 2016 Meg rated it it was amazing

Don't listen to me; my heart's been broken.
I don't see anything objectively.

I know myself; I've learned to hear like a psychiatrist.
When I speak passionately,
that's when I'm least to be trusted.

It's very sad, really: all my life, I've been praised
for my intelligence, my powers of language, of insight.
In the end, they're wasted–

I never see myself ...

Glück's ability to write about the mundane or her own personal life, yet with a single line transform the poem into s
Doralee Brooks
Mar 23, 2014 Doralee Brooks rated it it was amazing
This is my first encounter with Louise Gluck. I have several of her books that I plan to read chronologically. It's great, I think to experience a writer in their work over time. A New York Times reviewer said that even though some of Gluck's most compelling poems are about family, she is more Dickinson than Plath. There is a stillness in this collection that is moving, that, the simplicity of language, and the masterful handling of metaphor makes this a memorable book for me.
Troy VanGundy
Nov 03, 2015 Troy VanGundy rated it it was amazing
This collection tugged at chords in my heart. I nearly cried a few times over these poems' beautiful and sometimes almost brutal honesty discussing relationships, but like the central narrator I imagined in these poems, I was unable to access that part of me until the last poem, First Memory, induced me to openly weap.

"in childhood, I thought / that pain meant/ I was not loved./ It meant I loved."
May 30, 2012 Sara rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
Gluck has some brilliant images and ideas, but too often waters them down.
"my mother's heart became
very cold, very rigid,
like a tiny pendant of iron"
The pendant, I should think, is cold and rigid already. Stating it weakens it.
The narrative throughout the book I like; the Biblical themes, the family, the deaths and births. The book as a whole is far better than the individual poems, which tend to be better than their individual lines, which tend to be worse than their individual images. There
May 10, 2014 Esthër rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, read-in-2014
"Un día, eres un niño rubio y mellado;
al día siguiente un viejo que jadea en busca de aire.
Viene a ser nada, en realidad; como mucho
un instante sobre la tierra.
No una frase, sino un aliento, una cesura"
Amanda Hains
Apr 06, 2016 Amanda Hains rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
A great collection of poetry, mainly centered around the themes of family ties, childhood, and memory.
Jan 17, 2013 SA rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
Gluck's voice is incomparable--the way she composes a line renders both emotion and setting so vividly. This book of poems mostly comprises the shock and mourning of her father, and the self-reflection and family criticism that naturally comes from so traumatic an event. Best read in two cycles: one to read it from cover to cover, and a second to connect the last poem back to the first. I wish I understand her reference to Mt. Ararat better (actually, I often wish poetry volumes came with an aft ...more
Apr 02, 2014 Hakan rated it liked it
Some rather striking but some more or less average poems of grief and family tensions.
Tom Romig
Aug 14, 2013 Tom Romig rated it it was amazing
A searing family portrait in poetry. Louise Gluck comes to terms with a childhood of emotional ineptitude (her mother), absence though present (her father), and intermittent estrangement (her sister). Ms. Gluck is a prisoner of loss, a victim of separation, struggling heroically to make peace with a family of hurt. She arrives at this point:

First Memory

Long ago, I was wounded. I lived
to revenge myself
against my father, not
for what he was--
for what I was: from the beginning of time,
in childhood,
Nicole K
Jun 18, 2015 Nicole K rated it it was amazing
A collection that took me pleasantly by surprise.
Jan 25, 2016 William rated it it was amazing
holy shit
Kevin Lawrence
Aug 09, 2013 Kevin Lawrence rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
A book I grudgingly admire since it broke the fevered, unsustainable tone of early Gluck and let her write in a more approachable voice. Still, some of the poems are awkward and feel amateurish -- but I do admire the penultimate and final poems of the book. I think Gluck needed to write this family drama so that she could prepare herself to write her real masterpiece, "The Wild Iris."
Mar 11, 2011 Lindsey rated it liked it
Recommended to Lindsey by: Wendy Flory
At first, I wasn't particularly taken with the collection, but given the opportunity to sit down and read it as a whole I think really helped its effect--it very much builds and there are a few poems that really do great work for the book as a whole.

Favorites: "A Fable," "New World," "Animals," "Children Coming Home from School," "Celestial Music"
Hannah Jane
Jun 28, 2010 Hannah Jane rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I only loved one poem, "Child Crying Out." I just didn't feel any connection with her poems. She repeatedly mentioned the fact that she was an unemotional person. I think that's why her poems didn't reach to me. I felt like she was restrained and impersonal. I'd give her another chance though.
Aug 16, 2007 Josh rated it really liked it
It took me a minute to catch on to how this book worked, but once I did, I thought it was great. Individually, I don't love any of the poems, and was hoping for and expecting something entirely different--but collectively, they are powerful and beautiful, with arc and flow.
Aug 30, 2007 Andrew rated it it was ok
I was surprised not to like this book, since Gluck is one of my favorite contemporary poets. I just couldn't see her usual insight in any of these, maybe because the book seems to be more personally centered around events in her life. Oh well...
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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
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“As I saw it,
all my mother's life, my father
held her down, like
lead strapped to her ankles.

She was
buoyant by nature;
she wanted to travel,
go to the theater, go to museums.
What he wanted
was to lie on the couch
with the Times
over his face,
so that death, when it came,
wouldn't seem a significant change.”
“First Memory

Long ago, I was wounded. I lived
to revenge myself
against my father, not
for what he was--
for what I was: from the beginning of time,
in childhood, I thought
that pain meant
I was not loved.
It meant I loved.”
More quotes…