The New York Times
In the Pinesby Alice Notley
Alice Notley is considered by many to be among the most outstanding of living American poets. Notley's work has always been highly narrative, and her new book mixes short lyrics with long, expansive lines of poetry that often take the form of prose sentences, in an/b>
A bold and strikingly original new work from one of America's greatest living poets
Alice Notley is considered by many to be among the most outstanding of living American poets. Notley's work has always been highly narrative, and her new book mixes short lyrics with long, expansive lines of poetry that often take the form of prose sentences, in an effort "to change writing completely." The title piece, a folksong-like lament, makes a unified tale out of many stories of many people; the middle section, "The Black Trailor," is a compilation of noir fictions and reflections; while the shorter poems of "Hemostatic" range from tough lyrics to sung dramas. Full of curative power, music, and the possibility of transformation, In the Pines is a genre- bending book from one of our most innovative writers.
The New York Times
Notley takes the title of her 30-somethingth collection from a notorious American folk song: a man tries to get his lover to admit she's been unfaithful, asking her where she's slept, and her ambiguous answer-"in the pines"-only makes things worse. That menacing rhetorical moment informs the whole of this searing collection, which is part autobiography, part riposte to literary culture, and part lyrical reclamation of feminist territory. The at times deliberately ugly long opening title poem is a grotesque's monologue that shades into omniscience-"All I am is this. So all of writing is changed"-and back to embodiment: "It's almost a story or a poem but it's really a song because it's ripping me apart." Suffused with pain and white-hot accusatory anger, the poem delves into illness, death, love, and being "defective" in a manner that's almost unbearable to read, and which makes dazzling shifts in perspective that keep it rising like a house of cards, or a life. The two sections that follow-the prose poems of "The Black Trailor" and the lyrics of "Hemostatic"-amplify and expand the title piece, reverberating "in this crushed out room where/ all times come," giving the book a crushing yet sad and graceful symmetry. This master poet continues to inspire and challenge. (Oct.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
In her latest collection, Notley-a Pulitzer Prize nominee for Mysteries of Small Houses(1998)- plays with words, uses fragments, and mixes voices to hint at a meaning. As she said in an interview with Gale's Contemporary Authors, "I'm not interested in meaning. I'm interested in being right here, no veils." The present volume works through language poems that center on what a newly dead person might say as she enters the nether world. As with her earlier epic poem, The Descent of Alette, Notley writes dreamlike sequences about a corpse being dismembered. Although the style is conversational, the narrator seems to be talking to herself in an almost stream-of-consciousness manner while musing on murder, sex, fire, song, and poetry. At 60-plus pages, the first poem (which comprises the book's first part) is off-putting because of its length, its subject matter, and the way Notley avoids making sense. The next two sections feature better works, page-length prose poems and shorter, airier free-verse poems that showcase Notley's unusual metaphors. Suitable for academic libraries only.
"Notley as artist is like a hero on a fantastical journey. She descends into subterranean worlds of dream and ascends to heights of philosophical thought, but also remains rooted in the dirt of politics and the tedium of the everyday life."
Meet the Author
Alice Notley is a poet whose twenty previous titles include The Descent of Alette, Beginning with a Stain, Homer's Art, and Selected Poems. She wrote the introduction for her late first husband Ted Berrigan's Selected Poems. She lives in Paris.
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