American poet Louise Glück won this year's Nobel prize for literature. I spent the last five years living in Syracuse, NY, which I like to call the city of snow. I am not exaggerating: it snows 6-8 months per year there. The first snow usually comes in October, and it keeps coming until May. I purchased Glück's book The Wild Iris on a cold, snowy afternoon day at one of Syracuse's local bookstores. I was searching for books by Mary Oliver. Oliver helped me survive Syracuse winters; her poetry made me focus on the beauty of snow. As I couldn't find any, a store employee -- an MFA student at Syracuse University -- recommended Louise Glück as alternative. "If you like Oliver, you will like her. Perhaps even more than Oliver". He was right. Here is my favorite poem from The Wild Iris (for which she received the Pulitzer Prize in 1992).
Do you know what I was, how I lived? You know
what despair is; then
winter should have meaning for you.
I did not expect to survive,
earth suppressing me. I didn't expect
to waken again, to feel
in damp earth my body
able to respond again, remembering
after so long how to open again
in the cold light
of earliest spring --
afraid, yes, but among you again
crying yes risk joy
in the raw wind of the new world.
Beatriz Rey is a political scientist and a writer based in Washington, D.C.