Songs and Stories of the Ghouls

Songs and Stories of the Ghouls

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by Alice Notley
     
 

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Left dead after our cultures were broken by triumphant enemies, our stories changed to suit others. We now change them again to suit ourselves. Songs and Stories of the Ghouls purports to give power to the dead—voices to the victims of genocide both ancient and contemporary—and presence to women. Medea did not kill her sons; Dido founds a city, over and

Overview

Left dead after our cultures were broken by triumphant enemies, our stories changed to suit others. We now change them again to suit ourselves. Songs and Stories of the Ghouls purports to give power to the dead—voices to the victims of genocide both ancient and contemporary—and presence to women. Medea did not kill her sons; Dido founds a city, over and over again, the city of the present author’s poetry. In these poems the poet asserts that though her art comes from a tradition as broken as Afghanistan’s statuary, there is always a culture to pass on to one’s children, and one is always involved in doing so. We are the ghouls, the drinkers of the blood-sacs, and we insist that we are alive.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“In three sections that combine poetry and prose, she modernizes the myths of Media and Dido.... Those interested in mythology and political poetry will find something of note here.”—Doris Lynch, Library Journal

“Alice Notley scribes a deep voice, her ear floating in space listens to flames talk.” —Jeffrey Cyphers Wright, Brooklyn Rail

“Continual wars and women is a key theme of Notley’s latest collection, it is a dark and trick book, she says, ‘Ghouls don’t really die. That’s one of the rules of the Dead.’ … The past always comes back to haunt us. … Possibly her most adventurous and experimental volume to date and certainly a long way from her New York school days.”—Pauline Reeves, Beat Scene

“…these latest poems of Notley’s are amulets, and their power protects as well as defends. Tamper with the ghouls at your own peril.”—Patrick James Dunagan, Rain Taxi

Library Journal
Lenore Marshall winner Notley here explores the intersection of mythology, feminism, and politics. In three sections that combine poetry and prose, she modernizes the myths of Medea and Dido, questioning whether Medea would really have killed her own children and how the celebration of ancient wars has spurned violence throughout history. At times, the writing turns didactic, as in this prose segment, "The history of Carthage has been related by numerous ancient men but the Tyrian princess Dido founder of the city cannot be mentioned except in relation to her tragic passion for Aeneas." Notley complicates the dense subject matter by employing modernist techniques, such as shifts in syntax and the use of capital letters. There are lovely passages—"As beautiful as/ a raven, a fire, a/ fawn"—but too often the poet incorporates lines that make little sense: "She wears a blue down coat/ because she is rather/ deep." VERDICT Those interested in mythology and political poetry will find something of note here, but most will find this collection of little merit. Not Notley's best work.—Doris Lynch, Monroe Cty. P.L., Bloomington, IN

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780819571533
Publisher:
Wesleyan University Press
Publication date:
11/15/2011
Series:
Wesleyan Poetry Series
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
208
File size:
301 KB

What People are saying about this

Etel Adnan
“With her own natural, raw violence, Alice Notley reminds us that wars do not only kill people and bring down their houses, but destroy also their writings, their cultures, their civilization. Here she creates an intricate form of writing, balances song against story, to assert her belief in the creative powers of poetry, one of which is the power to bring about the seeds of a new culture. And the basic element of this new culture, she seems to say, ought to be a culture of love, love, the element most missing in the world we live in, and the literature we read.”
Claudia Keelan
“In Songs and Stories of the Ghouls, Alice Notley continues her fearless excavation, subverting traditional readings of Dido and Medea as exiled queens and jilted lovers. The latest in an oeuvre which seeks the missing—or overlooked spirit, or soul—Songs and Stories of the Ghouls makes thrilling claims for the power of dispossession.”

Meet the Author

ALICE NOTLEY is the author of many collections of poems including Pulitzer Prize-finalist Mysteries of Small Houses, and Grave of Light: New and Selected Poems. She is the recipient of the Griffin Poetry Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Poetry, the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the San Francisco Poetry Center Book Award.

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Songs and Stories of the Ghouls 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Bill Flynn More than 1 year ago
Service was great, as expected. The book is serious and it takes time to peal back from the surface and go deeper. Not a quick read if you want the message. Isn't that why we read poetry? It is why I do.