Penguin Books, 2011
Notley's latest collection centers on a character named Marie, who resides in a dump in the southwestern desert. Marie's life is "made" by the materials she has to work with—Notley establishes Marie's "codex"—a manuscript formed by the debris and ephemera discarded at the dump site. From "Pay Pill":
I, Marie, read very old newspapers as
they arrive out here; I only read the words I choose,
mandala, forgotten, taxi, cinema, blue hour.
This collection engulfs readers in a unique and strange world in which they must accept the unexplainable, adapt to Marie's synesthesia—"It's September in the codex—a gold ink month."—and embrace a
fuzzy cast of characters who weave in and out of Marie's experiences —Leroy the liar, Eve Love the troubled ingénue, the "mean girls" who torment Marie. The poems are stacked one right after the other; one
narrative slurs into the next without the clean, white space of the page neatly housing each poem. In making a manuscript and a collaged narrative out of objects and fragments of language, Marie becomes the poet of her existence, a culture of one. The poem "I Invented the Arts" begins, "I invented the arts to stay alive." Notley empowers Marie as an agent of creation throughout the collection. One of the last poems in the book, "The Chthonic Academy" begins
Nothing occurs by chance, Marie thinks. Not in my life.
I walk inside a lucent force, and I project it tooŚ