In Which Alice Notley Keeps It Real For the Ladies

Notley observing on the right

I never took much notice of Alice Notley before. To be obsessed with Ted Berrigan, her husband, was to see Notley as something of a peripheral figure. Her work’s funny sensibility in some ways (less sincerity, more irony) outdoes Ted. After he died in 1983, she got remarried, to Douglas Oliver, who died in 2000. I think she will be seen as an important poet.

When I Was Alive

by Alice Notley

When I was alive
I wore a thin dress bare
shoulder the heart
of the white sun

and my black thin
dress did envelop me
till I was a shell
gladly and breeze

ruffled and filled
against good legs
the translucent fabric and my
heart transparent

as I walk towards Marion’s
and Helena’s as my
skirt fills empties and fills with
cooling air


by Alice Notley

Crocus there, store bought
Window there, dark tonight, rainy
tomorrow. Heart there, red
invisible deep down & blue
sweetest you there too and
with angels o’er your surface
& an ocean of own heart.
I will never fuck you again
You’re one of the faraway mapmakers now
the scent of pine, then gone.

At Night The States 1988

More photos here.

Notley on Phillip Whalen.

Silliman on Notley.

Conversation with Claudia Keelan.

Her lecture at a poetics convention.

UConn has the Alice Notley papers.

But He Says I Misunderstood

by Alice Notley

He & I had a fight in the pub
5 scotch on the rocks 1 beer I remember
only that he said “No women poets are any
good, if you want it
Straight, because they don’t handle money” and
“Poe greater than Dickinson”
Well that latter is an outright and fucking untruth

6-line stanzas

Open though some?

And he forgot to put my name on our checks
He went to get the checks however
He had checks to deposit in his name
He’s older & successfuller & teachers because
When you’re older you don’t want to
scrounge for money besides it gives him
a thrill he doesn’t too much acknowledge,
O Power!

Ted Berrigan

So I got pregnant
I hope not last night now
I’m a slave, well mildly, to a baby
Though I could teach English A or
type no bigshot (mildly) poet-in-residence like him
Get a babysitter never more write any good poems
Or, just to
Scrounge it out, leave him. All I can say is

This poem is in the Mainstream American Tradition

Incidentals in the Day World, 1973

Poem about her kids in January.

Interview with Douglas A. Martin.

Review of the below collection:


“Human Nature” — Madonna (mp3)

“I’d Rather Be Your Lover” — Madonna (mp3)

“Love Tried to Welcome Me” — Madonna (mp3)


Tess finds herself deep within hell.

Becca on too many runts.

Molly on Tay Zonday.


Mmm…Iraqi kebabs

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