Today, we celebrate one of America’s greatest living poets—Alice Notley. One of my favorite poets, Notley was born on November 8, 1945 in Bisbee, Arizona. She is known for her unique stylistic exploration and feminist narrative within formative poetic structures. Notley is most compelling in her introspective voice around life, death, womanhood, and agency.
After reading Notley, I always find myself ruminating on her words and left in awe in her command of language and style. She is a must read of modern American literature and a poetic genius. Let’s take a look at a few of my favorite Notley poetic excerpts.
I will be myself again.
When were we ourselves? eons and lives ago, a string of pearls.
I will stand outside and sing.from “The Voices” in Certain Magical Acts
“Sadness” “& hysteria” / “made my heart expand” “into an” “immense” “sick flower” “grotesque / blossom” “huge red orchid” “with an attenuated thin” “yellow stem”from The Descent of Alette
I tried to learn how to be a person
in order to be a poet. but I failed, or I was failedfrom “If the real was real why isn’t it” in Certain Magical Acts
Blinding the white horse in front of me. I will ride
light back. I have healed myself in light and will
return, in light, to lightfrom “Blinding, the White Horse in Front of Me” in Certain Magical Acts
I’m listening for
something else, not Death, but
what she hears.
She hears me, but I can’t always
saying to her, Keep me at arm’s
length. I don’t
know a thing yet, and I haven’t
lived.from Certain Magical Acts
my place is who I am.
I am a self exile,
or I’m myself,
having loosely arrived.from “The Voices” in Certain Magical Acts
“I don’t know what I’m leaving or
where I’m going.
I don’t seem to mind,
I’m in the state of
traveling. Suspended. That’s
always been my state.”from “I couldn’t sleep in my dreams” in Certain Magical Acts