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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.

At Night the States

Alice Notley, 1945
At night the states
I forget them or I wish I was there
	 in that one under the
Stars. It smells like June in this night
	 so sweet like air.
I may have decided that the
	 States are not that tired
Or I have thought so. I have
	 thought that.

At night the states
And the world not that tired
	 of everyone
Maybe. Honey, I think that to
	 say is in 
light. Or whoever. We will
	 never
replace You. We will never re-
	 place You. But
in like a dream the floor is no
	 longer discursive
To me it doesn't please me by
	 being the vistas out my
window, do you know what
	 Of course (not) I mean?
I have no dreams of wake-
	 fulness. In
wakefulness. And so to begin.
	 (my love.)


At night the states
talk. My initial continuing contra-
	 diction
my love for you & that for me
deep down in the Purple Plant the oldest
	 dust
of it is sweetest but sates no longer
	 how I
would feel. Shirt
that shirt has been in your arms
	 And I have
that shirt is how I feel


At night the states
will you continue in this as-
	 sociation of
matters, my Dearest? down
	 the street from
where the public plaque reminds
	 that of private
loving the consequential chain
	 trail is
matters


At night the states
that it doesn't matter that I don't
	 say them, remember
them at the end of this claustro-
	 phobic the
dance, I wish I could see I wish
	 I could
dance her. At this night the states
	 say them
out there. That I am, am them
	 indefinitely so and
so wishful passive historic fated
	 and matter-
simple, matter-simple, an
	 eyeful. I wish
but I don't and little melody.
	 Sorry that these
little things don't happen any
	 more. The states
have drained their magicks
	 for I have not
seen them. Best not to tell. But
	 you
you would always remain, I
	 trust, as I will
always be alone.


At night the states
whistle. Anyone can live. I
can. I am not doing any-
	 thing doing this. I
discover I love as I figure. Wed-
	 nesday
I wanted to say something in
	 particular. I have been
where. I have seen it. The God
	 can. The people
do some more.

At night the states
I let go of, have let, don't
	 let
Some, and some, in Florida, doing.
	 What takes you so
long? I am still with you in that
	 part of the
park, and vice will continue, but
	 I'll have
a cleaning Maine. Who loses
	 these names
loses. I can't bring it up yet,
	 keeping my
opinions to herself. Everybody in
	 any room is a
smuggler. I walked fiery and
	 talked in the
stars of the automatic weapons
	 and partly for you
Which you. You know.


At night the states
have told it already. Have
	 told it. I
know it. But more that they
	 don't know, I
know it too.


At night the states
whom I do stand before in
	 judgment, I
think that they will find
	 me fair, not
that they care in fact nor do
	 I, right now
though indeed I am they and
	 we say
that not that I've
	 erred nor
lost my way though perhaps
	 they did (did
they) and now he is dead
	 but you
you are not. Yet I am this
	 one, lost
again? lost & found by one-
	 self
Who are you to dare sing to me?


At night the states
accompany me while I sit here
	 or drums
there are alwavs drums what for
	 so I
won't lose my way the name of
	 a
personality, say, not California
	 I am not
sad for you though I could be
	 I remember
climbing up a hill under tall
	 trees
getting home. I guess we
	 got home. I was
going to say that the air was
	 fair (I was
always saying something like
	 that) but
that's not it now, and that
	 that's not it
isn't it either


At night the states
dare sing to me they who seem
	 tawdry
any more I've not thought I
	 loved them, only
you it's you whom I love
the states are not good to me as
	 I am to them
though perhaps I am not
when I think of your being
	 so beautiful
but is that your beauty
	 or could it be
theirs I'm having such a
	 hard time remembering
any of their names
your being beautiful belongs
	 to nothing
I don't believe they should
	 praise you
but I seem to believe they
	 should
somehow let you go


At night the states
and when you go down to
	 Washington
witness how perfectly anything
	 in particular
sheets of thoughts what a waste
	 of sheets at
night. I remember something
	 about an
up-to-date theory of time. I
	 have my
own white rose for I have
	 done
something well but I'm not
	 clear
what it is. Weathered, perhaps
	 but that's
never done. What's done is
	 perfection.


At night the states
ride the train to Baltimore
we will try to acknowledge what was
but that's not the real mirror
	 is it? nor
is it empty, or only my eyes
	 are
Ride the car home from Washington
	 no
they are not. Ride the subway
	 home from
Pennsylvania Station. The states
	 are blind eyes
stony smooth shut in moon-
	 light. My
French is the shape of this
	 book
that means I.


At night the states
the 14 pieces. I couldn't just
walk on by. Why
aren't they beautiful enough
in a way that does not
	 beg to wring
something from a dry (wet)
	 something
Call my name


At night the states
making life, not explaining anything
but all the popular songs say call
	 my name
oh call my name, and if I call
 	 it out myself to
you, call mine out instead as our
	 poets do
will you still walk on by? I
	 have
loved you for so long. You
	 died
and on the wind they sang
	 your name to me
but you said nothing. Yet you
	 said once before
and there it is, there, but it is
	 so still.
Oh being alone I call out my
	 name
and once you did and do still in
	 a way
you do call out your name
to these states whose way is to walk
on by that's why I write too much


At night the states
whoever you love that's who you
	 love
the difference between chaos and
	 star I believe and
in that difference they believed
	 in some
funny way but that wasn't
	 what I
I believed that out of this
 	 fatigue would be
born a light, what is fatigue
there is a man whose face
	 changes continually
but I will never, something
	 I will
never with regard to it or
	 never regard
I will regard yours tomorrow
I will wear purple will I
and call my name


At night the states
you who are alive, you who are dead
when I love you alone all night and
	 that is what I do
until I could never write from your
	 being enough
I don't want that trick of making
	 it be coaxed from
the words not tonight I want it
	 coaxed from
myself but being not that. But I'd
	 feel more
comfortable about it being words
	 if it
were if that's what it were for these
	 are the
States where what words are true
	 are words
Not myself. Montana. Illinois.
	 Escondido.

Alice Notley. "At Night the States" from Grave of Light © 2006 by Alice Notley and reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Alice Notley. "At Night the States" from Grave of Light © 2006 by Alice Notley and reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.

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
"Presently" "we neared a pale beach," "narrow" "with trees behind it"
"thick & blue-black," "& lights" "many lights" "deep inside the"
"wooded land" "I touched bottom" "& walked ashore" "Then I saw"
"a final entity," "airy image, pass" "out of my body—" "from my

forehead" "A small shape," "perhaps
poem
You hear that heroic big land music?
Land a one could call one.
He starred, had lives, looks down:
windmill still now they buy only
snow cows. Part of a dream, she
had a long waist he once but yet
never encircled, and now I'm
in charge of this, this donkey with
a charmed voice. Elly, I'm 
being sad thinking of
poem

I'm calling out from pictures to your vision creating it
turn right, that dream building cutglass window in door.
Automatically inside their apartment, you don't have
to get there. This is before the lost sacred corpus vision,
someone says Look at my author photo. I
don't really want to I'm