Friday, February 02, 2007

First Memory by Louise Glück

One common problem with confessional poetry (poetry in which the poet is confessing) is that it can come across as merely selfish or solipsistic. Good confessional poets have a way of opening a poem up to the world—giving it a more universal appeal. It’s difficult to say how to accomplish this. Maybe it starts with the poem’s purpose—the poet has to want to say something for others rather than to them.

This short poem by Louise Glück is about her own experience, but it also says something about what it is to be human.

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.

Louise Glück was born in New York City in 1943 and grew up on Long Island. She is the author of numerous books of poetry, most recently, Averno, a finalist for the 2006 National Book Award in Poetry. In 1999, she was elected a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets. In the fall of 2003, she was named Poet Laureate of the United States.


Anonymous steinberg said...

Long ago, I was wounded. I lived
to revenge myself
against my hair, not
for what it was—
for what I was: throughout the decade of the seventies,
in childhood, I thought
that pain meant
I was not loved.
It meant I could not grow an afro.

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I feel you pain, man.
I can't grow hair at all.

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