Alice Notley turns 77 today. (See here for our posting from two years back on her 75th birthday) – Happy Birthday, Alice!
Alice has two books coming out (three, if we count an upcoming edition of her early writings). The first, Runes and Chords (from Archway Editions) scheduled for a Valentine’s Day pub date, is a unique one.
Concerning that, the editors write:
“Ephemeral and anarchic, Runes and Chords is the first collection of (her) artwork . These sketches, drawn on an iPad and first serialized on her Twitter feed, are a fascinating window into an evolving practice, collages of flowers and poetry, the white space of digital creation and overlaid colors erupting from the page. They defy containment and category, much like their creator – each a second in a day, an afternoon or evening in Paris, a thought so transient it can only exist in the medium of social media.”
These calligraphic drawings and notations are singular in their form but very much a part of her on-going poetic practice.
Here’s her notes on Runes and Chords for the Poetry Foundation
Here’s her interview with Jeff Alessandrelli of Bomb magazine about the book
Here are a few (of necessity) random examples
It’s not all flowers:
Here’s a more-recently posted “Rune/Chord”:
The next two scheduled titles, scheduled for the following week, two remarkable collections from Fonograf Editions – the aforementioned Early Works (edited by the indefatigable Nick Sturm) and the astonishing The Speak Angel Series, (641 pages, equally sui generis, six books interrelated)
“The Speak Angel Series”, the publishers write, “is composed of six full-length books in various forms but towards the achievement of a unifying epic narrative in which the poet, as character, leads all the souls of all the living and dead to a point zero where the remaking of the cosmos can be performed. As this is being done, the official public world takes place in Paris, France and the United States, and new “characters” are incorporated from the news and from the poet’s life. The forms include a long-line narrative broken by lyric stand-alones, an operatic form designed to make the reader of it chant if reading aloud, a spiritual sequel to the author’s book The Descent of Alette, written in the same stanzaic form, a book that is simply a collection of different kinds of poems, a book formed by collaging, and a final, long book that is the volume’s ultimate culmination. The Speak Angel Series took years to accomplish but is finally ready; it is meant to be read for plot, pleasure, musical experience, wisdom and truth. Why not? The books present something like a cosmology in the philosophical sense, a reading of existence and of death. The dead are very close-by and available in the series, which is a work of stunning ambition.”
Early Works brings back into print her first four books, 165 Meeting House Lane, Phoebe Light, Incidentals in the Day World, and For Frank O’Hara’s Birthday, as well as a little-known sonnet sequence “Great Interiors, Wines and Spirits of the World” and a large selection of uncollected poems culled from little magazines
As Nick Sturm observes in his introduction – ” In the author’s note that begins Grave of Light: New and Selected Poems 1970-2005, Alice Notley writes, “My publishing history is awkward and untidy, though colorful and even beautiful.”…This book, Early Works, accounts for a significant portion of that history…In doing so, (it) joins an important set of recent volumes that put Notley’s earlier poetry back into circulation, including Manhattan Luck (Hearts Desire, 2014), which collects four long poems written between 1978 and 1984, and Songs for the Unborn Second Baby, originally published by United Artists in 1979 and reissued in a facsimile edition by London-based Distance No Object in 2021. Each in their own way, and especially taken together, these books continue to confirm that, as Ted Berrigan writes in The Poetry Project Newsletter in 1981, “Alice Notley is even better than anyone has yet said she is.”
To read four poems from the upcoming Early Works collection – see here
Sturm is also responsible for not only Early Works but the singularly important Digital Publishing Project -a fully-searchable database of Alice Notley’s magazines – see here
Alice Notley on Ted Berrigan’s recently-released Get The Money – see here
An on-going Alice Notley critical biography – see here
Alice Notley at the April 2022. Double Change reading in Paris on the occasion of the Poets and Critics Symposium: