News from The Williams Blog and Yale Daily News that Louise Gluck, US Poet Laureate and 20 year faculty member at Williams, will be moving to Yale. In fall 2002, I had the privilege of taking an introductory poetry workshop with Louise, and I'm sorry to see her go. I'm not sorry so much because Williams is losing a luminary, but rather because she was truly an excellent and rare kind of teacher.
In many ways Louise is an iconoclast. In fact, she is perhaps the most serious person I have ever met; she has refreshingly little tolerance for bullshit. She seems to accept a rather broad definition of bullshit, ranging from the common tendency of novice poets to value prolonging conceptions of their own talent—dispelled very effectively and to their great benefit in her intro workshop—to computers. The registrar's department is probably happy to see her go, as she was one of only two Williams profs who would only turn in grades on paper.
But all is not lost for young poets at Williams. I was also lucky to take a tutorial with Lawrence Raab, who, though more normal than Louise, is at least as good a teacher (and whose poetry I have always preferred). Unfortunately, as a thesis-writing computer nerd, I could not be more than a dilettante at poetry. Both Gluck and Raab helped me to learn about writing and poetry, and their workshops taught me how to learn from and not be silenced by my fears. And were great fun.