Over the years, poetry has almost lost its place in today’s society. The written word slowly losing power to the digital age. Poetry was once revered as a reflection of modern society. I find it to be one of the most underrated of all the literary art forms were anything can be anything. I’m just one of many who became enveloped by the lure of poetics. Nostrodomas attempted to give commentary about his troubled times through quatrains. Many took his masked commentary as predictions but that is still up to speculation. Allen Ginsberg and The Beats turned on a new generation to poetry. Charles Bukowski made it more personal than we could ever imagine.
Alice Notley is more than just an American poet. Alice Notley has created a legacy of poetry through family. Her story begins in her birthplace of Bisbee, Arizona and moves to Needles, California where she was raised. She later went on to earn her B.A from Barnard College in 1967 and an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa in 1969. From there, she went on to Chicago. Not very long after, she met fellow poet Ted Berrigan. In 1972 she married Berrigan and both became very influential in the Chicago poetry scene. She bore two of Berrigan’s sons who became established writers themselves. In 1983, Ted Berrigan died after years of health problems compounded by drug use and diet pills. After Ted’s untimely passing, Notley went on to raise their two sons in New York’s East Village. While in New York with her sons, she continued to create new works of poetry. In 1992 she moved to Paris and married her second husband, British poet Douglas Oliver. In 2000 Douglas Oliver passed away. Now Alice Notley still resides in Paris, occasionally coming to the U.S. to teach and give readings.
I once attended an Alice Notley reading. It was one of the most cathartic experiences I have been ever apart of. Since then, I’ve have had the opportunity to attend readings from her son Anselm Berrigan during the debut of his book Zero Star Hotel. Notley was well composed even though her microphone was giving her a whispering feedback. Alice Notley proved her talent. She can still move a crowd as she put raw emotion into reading poems that were clearly about Ted.
After reading Alice Notley’s book In The Pines, it was truly insightful to have watch her read in person. After hearing her read 10-13 from the Black Trailer, it helped me enjoy the poems a little bit more. Perhaps much of the book was lost in translation to me, but once hearing them from her mouth I felt the intensity. As a poet myself, I truly appreciated the experience of seeing Alice Notley read her poetry as it was meant to be heard.
Notley has garnered great respect for being one of the premiere poets of our time. Her work has never been overshadowed by the great company she kept. She managed to stand out and create something that can only be recognized as something individual. With more than twenty books of poetry under her belt, she is a titan of the written word. Alice Notley has been recognized many times for her great work with awards and grants. Alice Notley was also once a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry. Most importantly though, she is an influence to her children and every aspiring writer out there.