Louise Gluck, Pulitzer Prize winner and senior lecturer in English, has been named the country’s poet laureate. Here is the article in the NYT. The college’s announcement notes that:

Louise Glück has taught at Williams College since 1983 and teaches courses in the writing of poetry and in contemporary poetry as the Margaret Bundy Scott Senior Lecturer in English. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


1) Why isn’t Gluck a professor, as opposed to a lecturer? Perhaps there is no meaning to the difference in this case; perhaps, in the eyes of the English department, you need a Ph.D. to get the title of professor; perhaps it is just a function of her arrangement with the COllege.

2) However accomplished Gluck may be, how is it that she is able to live in Cambridge and teach in Williamstown? Of course, there are all sorts of good reasons for such an arrangement, but, in general, it must be much harder to have a substantive connection with the students when you live 3 hours away from them. The Miami Herald describes the set up as one in which Gluck teaches one semester a year and drives up once a week to Williamstown. That seems reasonable enough. Gluck (presumably) enjoys doing some teaching and the (few) students in her class (presumably) get a lot out of the experience.

The NYT excerts one of her poems as:

I’ll tell you something: every day

people are dying. And that’s just the beginning.

Every day, in funeral homes, new widows are born,

new orphans. They sit with their hands folded,

trying to decide about this new life.

Then they’re in the cemetery, some of them

for the first time. They’re frightened of crying,

sometimes of not crying. Someone leans over,

tells them what to do next, which might mean

saying a few words, sometimes

throwing dirt in the open grave.

And after that, everyone goes back to the house,

which is suddenly full of visitors.

The widow sits on the couch, very stately,

so people line up to approach her,

sometimes take her hand, sometimes embrace her.

She finds something to say to everybody,

thanks them, thanks them for coming.

In her heart, she wants them to go away.

She wants to be back in the cemetery,

back in the sickroom, the hospital. She knows

it isn’t possible. But it’s her only hope,

the wish to move backward. And just a little,

not so far as the marriage, the first kiss.

Alas, the Kane girls only get rhyming poetry read to them, so we’ll be sticking with Emily Dickinson.

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