Winter Recipes from the Collective is chamber music, an invitation into that privileged realm small enough for the individual instrument to make itself heard, dolente, its line sustained, carried, and then taken up by the next instrument, spirited, animoso, while at the same time being large enough to contain a whole lifetime, the inconceivable gifts and losses of old age, the little princesses rattling in the back of a car, an abandoned passport, the ingredients of an invigorating winter sandwich, a sister's death, the joyful presence of the sun, its brightness measured by the darkness it casts.
Glück’s intensity repelled me when I first encountered her work, as a student ... Now that I’m older, have suffered more and realize my life is likely more than half over, it’s her seriousness, her coldness, that appeals. Some days, and in the dark intervals between days, it seems to me that Glück’s preoccupations are what poetry is for, that poems are confrontations with the void ... Glück has become a true poet of the void ... [Winter Recipes] is quite brief, only 15 poems, and gives an impression of exhaustion, as though language and material have been nearly depleted ... Here, as in her last book, the poems often feel like fables or strange little fictions, positing characters with unclear relation to the poet ... The book is full of echoes of her earlier work, its winds (the breath of the void) and silence.
The Nobel Prize–winning poet has been publishing for more than five decades, and much of that time has been spent analyzing despair, melancholy, and anguish ... The fact that she’s so defiantly unskilled at (and uninterested in) 'moving on' is part of what keeps us readers coming back, in hopes of learning how we might live with our own insoluble griefs ... You’ll find no triumphs in her poems, no half-baked consolations. And yet, severe as a lot of her writing is, there’s tenderness in the way her voice beckons us. Her poems invite us into the grand enterprise of human struggle—a not insignificant gesture ... Winter Recipes from the Collective, her first volume in seven years, shows how gifted she is at coaxing new resonances and colors out of a minimalistic vocabulary. The same stark images recur ... In her late career, she’s still crying out the same sad songs, but in a richer, mellower timbre ... Glück may despise the platitudes of self-help literature, but it’s clear in this book that she sees poetry as some form of service; in their own way, her words light a path for us.
... an exquisitely small collection—the way an atom that contains the world is small—that further solidifies Glück’s place as one of the eminent poets of our time ... This work exists in multi-temporality where beginnings and endings cross each other like a game of cat’s cradle ... This collection is a contemplation of loss and grief and as well as what may yet come. It provides a roadmap from which to unpack and reconfigure our lives as poets and philosophers have done for humankind since language was afforded us ... In this poetry—as in many Eastern notions of time and the universe—there’s less of a quest for answers than this notion of constant change that is also entwined with the concept of stillness. Being and observing—and at the same time observing the inner self—is the point. Indeed, one can imagine that the speaker could also be the concierge; both the guide and the one who is guided ... , Glück explores many such small and powerful moments, those that are building blocks of the most complex issues of life and philosophy. It’s in this quietude that we see what we must hoard for the winter of our lives: the sights, sounds, loves, memories that we need to get us through to the next season whatever and whenever that may be.