Notley, Alice: First Four Books of Poems
Fonograf Editions, paperback
Publication Date: February 21, 2023
Publisher Marketing: Early Works collects Pulitzer-Prize nominated poet Alice Notley's first four out of print poetry collections, along with 80 pages of previously uncollected material. A must have for any Alice Notley fan. Includes original cover artwork as well, by Philip Guston, Philip Whalen and George Schneeman, among others.
From editor Nick Sturm's EARLY WORKS 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.I have always been enamored of this sentence, which reminds us that an array of dispersed and varying publishing contexts are the original sites that give shape to such a book's form. It is also something of an invitation into that color and untidiness, a prompt to become more curious about the awkwardness and beauty of Notley's publishing history. This book, Early Works, accounts for a significant portion of that history by bringing back into print the complete versions of her first four books, a little-known 22-poem sonnet sequence, and a large selection of early uncollected poems gathered from little magazines. In doing so, Early Works 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.
The range, comprehensiveness, and empathetic imagination of Alice Notley's poems are among the major astonishments of contemporary poetry. Book by surprising book, she reinvents not only herself as a poet, but also what it means for anyone to write a poem at this volatile moment in our history.--Robert Polito
Alice Notley is a disobedient medium: the dead speak through her and she speaks back. Sometimes she's a poet of intimate address, sometimes of epic sweep. Notley's formal experiments allow us to make contact with poetry's originary and anarchic force.--Ben Lerner