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Book Review: Winter Recipes from the Collective by Louise Glück

Louise Glück is a renowned 20th and 21st-century poet. Her newest collection, Winter Recipes from the Collective, is an elegant, short piece of art. I sat in the Barnes and Noble with a grande chai latte (oat milk, brown sugar syrup), with my good friend Britt, and we read this book cover to cover, together, and both bought it afterward. I usually stray from hardback books because of their price, but I couldn’t resist this collection.

Her poetry feels confessional, prose-like, and haunting.

The third poem in the collection, which the collection is named after I assume, is separated into four bits. The first part ends with:

The book contains

only recipes for winter, when life is hard. In spring,

anyone can make a fine meal.

And the third part ends with:

The dead leaves lay on the stones;

there was no wind to lift them.

I won’t spoil the end of the poem for you, but the fourth part does contain a beautiful line that I resonate with personally, as I am a December sagittarius:

It was as dark as it would ever be

but then I knew to expect this,

the month being December, the month of darkness.

December is one of my favorite months; it has my birthday, the holidays, that biting weather, the end of the year. But here, Glück makes me only think of the winter solstice, on which the shortest day, the darkest day of the year is, usually around December 21st. And I pair this sentiment, this very real thing that we all feel after daylight saving time ends, is what Glück says in “Night Thoughts”:

Long ago I was born.

There is no one alive anymore

who remembers me as a baby.

One of her most painful poems in the collection that I adore is “An Endless Story”, where Glück confesses:

This is why we search for love.

we search for it all of our lives,

even after we find it.

To be able to tell me something so bluntly, almost in a calming voice, is a painful honesty a lot of people can resonate with. I’ve been in a loving relationship for over six years and it still put a dagger in my heart. It made me think of the love, life, and death Glück struggles with in this collection: family, aging, memory, nostalgia. All of the lovely little bits that make us so imperfectly human.

The poem “Autumn” tells us more:

How heavy my mind is,

filled with the past.

This collection is obviously perfect for anyone who enjoys a chilly, depressing winter.

In “A Memory” Glück stabs me in the heart yet again:

And it seemed to me I remembered this place

from my childhood, though

there was no river in my childhood,

only houses and lawns. So perhaps

I was going back to that time

before my childhood, to oblivion, maybe

it was that river I remembered.

Louise Glück reminds us in her newest collection, Winter Recipes from the Collective, to stay warm, and to remember what we have forgotten.

Sage Short

Coastal Carolina '22

Sage Short is an undergraduate English student and research fellow at Coastal Carolina University. In her free time, she enjoys writing, reading, and listening to Florence and the Machine.
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