Mysteries of Small Houses by Alice Notley
(Poets, Penguin)

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Alice Notley vividly reconstructs the mysteries, longings, and emotions of her past in this brilliant new collection of poems that charts her growth from young girl to young woman to accomplished artist. In this volume, memories of her childhood in the California desert spring to life through evocative renderings of the American landscape, circa 1950. Likewise, her coming of age as a poet in the turbulent sixties is evoked through the era's angry, creative energy. As she looks backward with the perspective that time and age allows, Notley ably captures the immediacy of youth's passion while offering her own dry-eyed interpretations of the events of a life lived close to the bone. Like the colorful collages she assembles from paper and other found materials, Notley erects structures of image and feeling to house the memories that swirl around her in the present.

In their feverish, intelligent renderings of moments both precise and ephemeral, Notley's poems manage to mirror and transcend the times they evoke. Her profound tributes to the stages of her life and to the identities she has assumed—child, youth, lover, poet, wife, mother, friend, and widow—are remarkable for their insight and wisdom, and for the courage of their unblinking gaze.


About Alice Notley

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Alice Notley (born 8 November 1945) is an American poet. She was born in Bisbee, Arizona and grew up in Needles, California. She received a B.A from Barnard College in 1967 and an M.F.A. from the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1969. She married poet Ted Berrigan in 1972, with whom she was active in the Chicago poetry scene and with whom she had two sons. In the early 70s she became rooted in New York's Lower East Side, where she was an important force from 1976 through 1992. After Berrigan died in 1983, Notley raised their two sons in New York's East Village by herself for several years while continuing to develop her poetry. In 1992 she moved to Paris with her second husband, the British poet Douglas Oliver (1937-2000). She lives in Paris currently, making several trips to the United States each year to give readings and teach writing classes.
Published June 1, 1998 by Penguin Books. 162 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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In poem after poem—and they all read like one congealed mass—Notley claims to disdain the opinions of others, yet she continually worries about ’social graces,— the ’social ego,— ’socialization,— and —the hustle for status—(to which she does not seem immune).

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unstarred brightest equality."" Contemporary poetry's recent past shadows Notley more closely and intimately than most: her late husband, the poet Ted Berrigan, commands a small but devoted following, and many of these poems try to make sense of his work and his early death (""Grief's not a socia...

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