Celebrating Alice Notley On Her Birthday

Today is Alice Notley’s birthday; let’s take a look at seven of her most beautiful and introspective poetry quotes.

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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
IMAGE VIA ALLEN GINSBERG

I tried to learn how to be a person

in order to be a poet. but I failed, or I was failed

from “If the real was real why isn’t it” in Certain Magical Acts
IMAGE VIA MONICA CLAIRE ANTONIE

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 light

from “Blinding, the White Horse in Front of Me” in Certain Magical Acts
IMAGE VIA PENGUIN BOOKS

I’m listening for

something else, not Death, but

what she hears.

She hears me, but I can’t always

hear me

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
IMAGE VIA NIGEL BEALE

Suddenly different,

                        whoever took,

                                    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
IMAGE VIA POETRY INTERNATIONAL

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

FEATURED IMAGE VIA SEATTLE ARTS & LECTURES