Alice Notley Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Although Alice Notley (NAHT-lee) has dedicated her life to poetry, her writing of nonfiction has allowed for further exploration of her literary ideas. She has written introductions, memoirs, and essays, some of them collected in Coming After: Essays on Poetry (2005). She has also included short nonfiction pieces within her poetry volumes.

Notley’s work as editor has had a particularly significant impact, in that she has been instrumental in keeping the works of her late husband, Ted Berrigan, before the public. With Douglas Oliver, Notley edited the Paris-based journal Gare du Nord. After Oliver’s death, she edited his prose and poetry reflections on Paris, which were published as Arrondissements (2003). Notley has worked in the visual arts, sometimes presenting collages, sketches, and watercolors alongside her written pieces. In the 1980’s, she also wrote for the theater.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Alice Notley has received numerous awards and honors, including the 1981 San Francisco Poetry Center Book Award for How Spring Comes. Mysteries of Small Houses was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and was awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for poetry. In 2001, she received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. For Disobedience, she was named international winner of the 2002 Griffin Poetry Prize. In 2005, Notley won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for Grave of Light.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Bendall, Molly. Review of The Descent of Alette. Antioch Review 55, no. 2 (March, 1997): 247-248. Provides valuable insights into one of Notley’s most significant works.

Falconer, Rachel. “Dante Upside-Down: Alice Notley’s The Descent of Alette.” In Hell in Contemporary Literature: Western Descent Narratives Since 1945. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005. Falconer examines Notley’s story of Alette’s descent as part of the literature on hell.

Kane, Daniel. All Poets Welcome: The Lower East Side Poetry Scene in the 1960’s. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003. A pioneering study of the second-generation New York School, discussing the poets (including Notley) as individuals and as part of a closely knit community.

_______, ed. Don’t Ever Get Famous: Essays on New York Writing After the New York School. Urbana-Champaign, Ill.: Dalkey Archive Press, 2006. A collection of essays focusing on the years Berrigan and Notley were leading lights in Lower East Side poetry, emphasizing cultural, sociological, and historical aspects of the community, with special focus on small-press publications and workshops.

McCabe, Susan. “Alice Notley’s Epic Entry: ’An Ecstasy of Finding Another Way of Being.’” Antioch Review 56, no. 3 (June, 1998): 273-280. An in-depth exploration of the epic ambition evident in The Descent of Alette.

Nelson, Maggie. “Dear Dark Continent: Alice Notley’s Disobedience.” In Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2007. Discusses, among many topics, Notley’s involvement with the New York School and her later distancing herself from the movement by writing epics.

Notley, Alice. “Alice Notley.” Interview by Edward Halsey Foster. In Postmodern Poetry: The Talisman Interviews. Hoboken, N.J.: Talisman House, 1994. Notley describes her experiences and literary background.

_______. “An Interview with Alice Notley by Claudia Keelan.” Interview by Claudia Keelan. In Innovative Women Poets: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry and Interviews, edited by Elisabeth A. Frost and Cynthia Hogue. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2006. Notley discusses her poetry and life in an interview. The book also contains a short essay on Notley and some of her poetry.

Waldman, Anne. Nice to See You: Homage to Ted Berrigan. Minneapolis, Minn.: Coffee House Press, 1991. This literary collage offers insight into New York’s Lower East Side poetry community of the 1960’s and 1970’s, through the words of its members.