Being reflected upon (a memoir of 17 years, 2000-2017)

Alice Notley, 1945-

Book - 2024

"A memoir in verse from one of America's legendary poets In a New York Times review of Alice Notley's 2007 collection In the Pines, Joel Brouwer wrote that "the radical freshness of Notley's poems stems not from what they talk about, but how they talk, in a stream-of-consciousness style that both describes and dramatizes the movement of the poet's restless mind, leaping associatively from one idea or sound to the next." Notley's new collection is at once a window into the sources of her telepathic and visionary poetics, and a memoir through poems of her Paris-based life between 2000 and 2017, when she finished treatment for her first breast cancer. As Notley wrote these poems she realized that events ...during this period were connected to events in previous decades; the work moves from reminiscences of her mother and of growing up in California to meditations on illness and recovery to various poetic adventures in Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, and Edinburgh. It is also concerned with the mysteries of consciousness and the connection between the living and dead, "stream-of-consciousness" teasing out a lived physics or philosophy"--

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autobiographies (literary works)
Autobiographical poetry
[New York, New York] : Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC [2024]
Main Author
Alice Notley, 1945- (author)
Item Description
Place of publication from publisher's website.
Physical Description
127 pages ; 23 cm
  • Preface
  • That Kind of Poem
  • Winter 2013
  • Gravel Ghost or Gravel Gertie
  • Agamemnon
  • Don't Look At
  • Remaking our substance and form
  • Archival Quality I Remember
  • Betrayal
  • Teach them how to love why should anyone care Why should anyone anything
  • Some Florida
  • What Is a Thing
  • Provins
  • Dans le Port d'Amsterdam
  • To Remake It w/ Microtones
  • Le Maitre du Desordre
  • Who
  • Secret
  • The Fortune Teller
  • 2015
  • POEM
  • County
  • Science Describes Meat
  • Polluted
  • Borgia
  • Micro
  • Why Are You Writing These
  • The Cure
  • Jim Carroll's Ass
  • 40 Years Later
  • Speech Isn't Prose, nor Is Thought
  • What Is 'Conscious'
  • Everywhere
  • Before the Cognitive Organization of Matter
  • Lake Failure
  • Berlin
  • Attestation
  • Ladies and Gentlemen
  • I Heard Him
  • It Is the Ascension
  • Pigeon
  • No longer FBI
  • Change Sound and Syntax a Little Pronoun I
  • Rock
  • Disclaimer to the Urgently Expressive
  • Doug-April 21, 2000
  • The Answer Is Awe
  • I Don't Like This Arrangement
  • Because
  • Safe
  • From Dream Notebook
  • Survive
  • Creating the Memory Collage
  • Presenting Thought The Old Language Ocular Migraine Comes
  • And then again looking for a recent past that is a present thick with time past and to come so you know what you're doing in a fact … the idea of a spell or hex…
  • Trying to Get to Desert Hole
  • Doug's Prescience of His Death Louise Michel on the Bus
  • Crown and Cancer
  • Dinner at the Prime Minister's
  • Carte de Séjour
  • Breast
  • Uncle
  • Imaginary vs Dreamed
  • A Month Ago
  • As
  • Is It Fibrant or Vibrant Death
  • Sight
  • My Favorite Phrase I Don't Care
  • Dreaming White Awake
  • Anselm Hollo
  • Jiml Hendrix Anecdote
  • These Are the Clothes of Night Woman
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

A noteworthy member of the self-appointed Second New York School, Notley (For the Ride) takes the title of her expansive 50th book from a poem by Frank O'Hara: she is "reflected upon" by people and places witnessed and imagined during a 17-year period of loss, illness, and joyful remembering from 2000 to 2017. After the death of her second husband ("Doug--April 21, 2000"), Notley lives in Paris ("for the health care"), having undergone radiation treatments for cancer. There, she is delighted to be--through a club membership--"an international poet." She visits her mother in Needles, Ariz., where she grew up: "she doesn't want me there because I know she's dying/ others don't seem to then she wants me there again/ and I'm there and back here and there and then there again./ I hate people who listen to music on machines." Interruptions in the form of dreams, flashbacks, Lucrezia Borgia, Ginsberg, an acid trip, her husbands and sons break the flow, though the poet's stamina and humor are good company throughout, "Dream old pay phone ringing in hospital I pick up/ receiver voice says 'The answer is awe.' " Notley offers an intriguing and spirited reflection on a life in poetry. (Apr.)

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Review by Library Journal Review

Alone in 2017 Paris and completing treatment for her first recurrence of breast cancer, Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize winner Notley (For the Ride) decided to investigate how her life had unfolded since 2000, when husband Doug Oliver died. In true Notley style, what results is a veritable fountain of thoughts and reflections (because "loopy I mean zany / vision's interesting"), with sentences often breaking off midstream and redirecting ("Have you forsythia proven John Forsythe / in the driven to remember rain or snow I'm sinking / syntax by vibe, okay?"). This is no stately meditation but an astonishing rush of remembrance, with multiple flashpoints captured as sensuous moment, and it's a wonder to weave through her life, from her seeing a Greek play in Paris ("I cannot be the chorus the com- / munity I reject the concept though / there you are") to affecting recall of the deaths of Oliver and Notley's mother. Throughout, bits and particles fly, like the colored glass fragments of a kaleidoscope, and she reassembles them into not-narratives, as she's not interested in traditional stories. But as one of those specks, she also embraces the whole world: "I a micropoint in the wind that I am also." VERDICT A rich and bracing visit with one of our best poets; highly recommended.

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