About this poet

Born on November 8, 1945 in Bisbee, Arizona, Alice Notley grew up in Needles, California. She received a BA from Barnard College in 1967, and an MFA from the the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1969.

She moved about frequently in her youth (San Francisco, Bolinas, London, Essex, Chicago) and eventually married the poet Ted Berrigan in 1972, with whom she had two sons. In the early 1970s, Notley settled in New York's Lower East Side, where she was very involved in the local literary scene for several decades. After Berrigan's death in 1983, she married the British poet Douglas Oliver.

Though she is often identified as a prominent member of the eclectic second generation of The New York School, her poetry also demonstrates a continuing fascination with the desert and its inhabitants.

Notley's collections of verse include Culture of One (Penguin, 2001); In the Pines (Penguin, 2007); Grave of Light: New and Selected Poems 1970-2005 (Weslyan University Press, 2006), which was awarded the 2007 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets for the best book of the year; Disobedience (2001), winner of the 2002 International Griffin Poetry Prize; Mysteries of Small Houses (1998); The Descent of Alette (1996); Close to me & Closer . . . (The Language of Heaven) and Désamère (1995); To Say You (1994); Selected Poems of Alice Notley (1993); The Scarlet Cabinet (with Douglas Oliver, 1992); Homer's Art (1990); At Night the States (1988); Parts of a Wedding (1986); Margaret and Dusty (1985); Sorrento (1984).

Her collection How Spring Comes (1981) received a 1982 San Francisco Poetry Award. Other early titles include Waltzing Matilda (1981), When I Was Alive (1980), Songs for the Unborn Second Baby (1979), A Diamond Necklace (1977), Alice Ordered Me To Be Made (1976), Incidentals in the Day World (1973), Phoebe Light (1973), and 165 Meeting House Lane (1971). She has also published Tell Me Again (1982), an autobiography, and experiments with visual arts; her works include collages, watercolors, and sketches.

She has said that her speech is the voice of "the new wife, and the new mother" in her own time, but that her first aim is to make a poem, rather than present a platform of social reform.

Notley has received the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Poetry and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. In 2001, she received both an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Poetry Society of America's Shelley Memorial Award. She currently lives in Paris.

The Descent of Alette ["I walked into"]

Alice Notley, 1945
"I walked into" "the forest;" "for the woods were lit" "by yellow
street lamps" "along various" "dirty pathways" "I paused a moment"
"to absorb" "the texture" "of bark & needles" "The wind carried"
"with a pine scent" "the river's aura—" "delicious air" "Then a

figure" "appeared before me—" "a woman" "in a long dress" "standing
featureless" "in a dark space" " 'Welcome,' she said," "& stepped into"
"the light" "She was dark-haired" "but very pale" "I stared hard at her,
realizing" "that her flesh was" "translucent," "& tremulous," "a


whitish gel" "She was protoplasmic-" "looking—" "But rather beautiful,"
"violet-eyed" " 'What is this place?' " "I asked her" " 'It would be
paradise,' she said," " 'but, as you see," "it's very dark," "& always
dark" "You will find that" "those who live here" "are changed"

"enough" "from creation's first intent" "as to be deeply" "upset . . . "
"But you must really" "keep going now' " " 'Are those tents" "over there?'
I asked" "I saw small pyramids" "at a distance" " 'Yes, these woods are"
"full of beings," "primal beings," "hard to see—" "because it's"

"always dark here" "Most of them" "need not concern you now" "But
wait here," "someone is coming" "to show you your way' " "She stepped
back into" "the shadows," "turned & left me"

From Book Three of The Descent of Alette by Alice Notley, copyright © 1992 by Alice Notley. Used by peromission of Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

From Book Three of The Descent of Alette by Alice Notley, copyright © 1992 by Alice Notley. Used by peromission of Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Alice Notley

Alice Notley

Born on November 8, 1945, Alice Notley is the author of many collections of verse and the recipient of the 2007 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize

by this poet

poem

 

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poem
"I stood waiting" "for some minutes" "in this very" "alive darkness—"
"the air so vibrant," "the trees awake" "There were flowers," "mixed
grasses," "growing lower" "in the dark," "& I was relieved" "to be
near them" "after so much time" "where nothing grew" "Then" "I heard a

song" "faint & blurred," "a
poem
No world is intact
and no one cares about you.

I leaned down over
don’t care about, I care about
	you
I leaned down over the 

world in portrayal
of carefulness, answering

something you couldn’t say.
walking or fallen and you
	were supposed
to give therapy to me—

me leaning down
brushing with painted feathers