For years I have followed, in an abstracted sort of way, the poetry of Louise Gluck, taking it for granted, a fixture of American poetry. I did not thrill to it, as I did Kunitz's work, but I admired it, as one admires, but does not particularly favor, a well-crafted landscape hanging in the museum. But this evening, despite the perpetual sense I have these days of hurtling around without thinking from one task to another, without getting things done, despite R's return from Augusta, and the desire to sit down quietly in our new house together, I went to her reading, which I had anticipated for some months, thinking that because I had never heard her read, I ought to.
I am very glad I went. Aside from slams, which I don't attend, one does not think of poetry being a performance art, but the best of it really is. The poem read in the poet's own voice, whatever sort of voice that is, is really an entirely different animal than the poem on the page or read by some actor, however good the actor is and however well s/he knows the poem. But this reading put an altogether different shine on each of these well-polished gems from her collection In the Village. And I loved that she answered questions in a serious way and therefore got serious questions out of her audience, not the usual, "Where do you get your ideas for poems?" asked by earnest, pencil-gripping undergraduates, taking notes for their workshops.
I will definitely read her poems more carefully and thoughtfully in the future, will seek out her words in whatever form. I bought her essays, so I anticipate spending some time with her yet. As for spending time with her actually, since parking on the UCI campus is so expensive, I couldn't afford to; in order to avoid a ticket, I had to make like Cinderella and flee, though there were plenty of interesting people to talk to. I'm just glad I went.