Paris-based Alice Notley is the author of more than 20 books of poetry including The Descent of Alette (1996) and Mysteries of Small Houses (Penguin, 1998). She was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Poetry. In the spring of 2001 she received an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Poetry Society of America’s Shelly Memorial Award. She edited and wrote a new introduction to her late husband Ted Berrigan’s The Sonnets (Penguin, 2000). Born in Bisbee, Arizona, Notley grew up in Needles, California. After leading a peripatetic life during the late 60s and early 70s, she settled in New York, where, for 16 years, she was an important force in the eclectic second generation of the so-called New York school of poetry.
Disobedience stands in ambush at the virtual co-ordinates of our ‘post-modern’ inferno.
Disobedience stands in ambush at the virtual co-ordinates of our ‘post-modern’ inferno. Against ‘decorous poetry,’ Alice Notley’s verse has a caustic swish, the intimacy of a vivisectionist on the contemporary body politic. In an unsentimental interrogation of the will, the soul and the common being the long poem ‘disses’ the orthodoxies of political power, sex, and philosophy. Disobedience does what only the best poetry can do in times like these, surprise, denounce, dissent.
by Alice Notley
The first sentence (of my poem) must be “I left it.”
What is the second sentence
The form of the wave/weave comes to me in pictures
of stars swarming to be good
in their cage.
Man on métro speaks to himself
and so he can say anything he wants.
I wish I were him
always so constricted
by you, all you, the stars.
This page is not woven yet
but any wave of light is already woven
so as I tell you the past of the glassy future
I find I need a plot to show us truth,
the graph’s coordinates quotidian life and
my life forgotten from sleep or
the unconscious which must rise up
wounded from the escape, dripping blood.
Copyright © Alice Notley, 2001