BY ALICE NOTLEY
You must do battle with Eros I am
more worried about space, pressed for details
collapsed in chaos with my sword holding up the sky the
girl said. They cared not for love lying ever that they loved
But I your leader wounded in gender and bleeding
for Eros fought it away from my true beginning as now.
Always climbing that hill in several ways.
One goes past the Baptist Church and through the ugly
trees, houses I only visualize in dreams
you have no right to pursue me to my origins man
as bipolar as the one candidate, forgettable
as the other. We once lived in a postwar barracks blue
heated by a black stove of assumptions
Eros a youth admits no equal; Aphrodite the slut;
Chaos is whom I admire that keeps forgetting
love in favor of this terrible mixity I am
for example … these poems. Out of the pre-beginning
a different beauty. They want you to confess
something like in church, that a man will
save you. But I am your leader savior and poet
I am your general out of the desert thee
most ardent void precursor of love
Eros approaches again not the man but quality
sculpted genitals arush with the words
of unreason: I will never die. Which I is I
if I can remain chaotic I’ll tell you who you are
that you’ve never anticipated, but know
the only one. Without a thing. To be is not
to have; nor to belong; nor to have been born.
You are not the child of earth. Beauty still thy name.
To learn more about Alice Notley and read more selections of her work please visit: Poetry Foundation bio for: Alice Notley
Notley: I’m a hugely but quietly disobedient person, and I have not conducted my life the way any of the other poets have. […] I don’t teach, and that’s very disobedient right now.
Turner: Epic, disobedience—and gender, being a woman, that’s a third theme of your work. What about disobedience and feminism?
Notley: Everybody’s sexist. Most women are sexist. It’s a tremendous fight and it’s totally ongoing. Men have all the prestige and all the power in the poetry world, still. Women have space now, they have space but it’s not the same as prestige or power. It’s as if I’ve had to re-write all of the history of poetry so that I could be as great as I want to be. My “project” is to be a great poet. I’m not interested in poetry schools; I have absolutely no interest in any of that.
The excerpts are from: “At the Mercy of My Poetic Voice”: An Interview with Alice Notley BY Lindsay Turner (November 12, 2013)
To Read the full interview please visit: the Boston Review (interview by Lindsay Turner with Alice Notley)
Turner: …we’ve been talking about stories and narratives, but of course it’s—your book is, poetry is—“songs and stories.” What about the “song” part? Is there something about poetry’s singing that makes it better able to “speak for” the ghouls? Or: how do you think about the sounds your poems make?
Notley: …Poetry is the sound of poetry, even when it’s telling a story. Its definition is the way the voice changes when you read a poem. The ghouls let me speak for them because only I will. But that’s because I’m a poet; I’m not in it for the money. I’m at the mercy of my poetic voice and of their voices. No choice in the matter.
The heroine of Alice Notley’s noir epic poem Negativity’s Kiss (Presses Universitaires de Rouen) is named Ines. This is short for “inessential,” which is what Notley says the poet is, and, really, what we all are. She believes poetry is a great healer, and, wishing to remind us that our planet is small, when we die, poetry is what we return to. Ines writes poems that are emitted from what Notley calls “the garble,” which is all the information we receive through the media and the internet as opposed to our known senses. Ines, like Notley herself, wishes to use her poetry to make things better, but in the world of Notley’s noir, this isn’t possible. To visit Source of Quote click here: http://www.kcrw.com/news-culture/shows/bookworm/alice-notley-negativitys-kiss