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Author: Louise Gluck

Publisher: Penguin Classics


Staff Pick! Ant says…

In ‘Averno’, Louise Gluck examines the gradual weathering of her life lived in love, loss and regret. These poems are a deep insight into the impossibility of understanding and often feel suspended in their own vacuum of space and time, to be plucked, read and given back to the fragility from whence they came. The emotion always lingers with quiet brutality: 

How privileged you are, to be still passionately 
clinging to what you love; 
the forfeit of hope has not 
destroyed you. 

The title is taken from the name of a volcanic crater lake near Naples (‘Avernus’ in The Aeneid) that the Romans believed was a portal into the underworld. It is here that Gluck peers into the void with the myth of Persephone as a touchstone throughout. A collection of devastating beauty and deep poetic wisdom. ‘Averno’ stays with you and will draw you back to its darkness time and again: 

You will not be spare, nor will 
What you love be spared
A wind has come and gone, 
Taking apart the mind, 
It has left in its wake a strange lucidity.