Alice Notley

Photo credit: Libby Lewis

Alice Notley

Past Event: Wednesday, April 5, 2017

At McCaw Hall — Nesholm Family Lecture Hall

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Poetry

Awarded the 2015 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, one of American literature’s most distinguished honors, Alice Notley has become one of the most highly regarded figures in American poetry. Her newest collection, Certain Magical Acts, sets out to explore the world and its difficulties, from the recent economic crisis and climate change to the sorrow of violence and the disappointment of democracy and other political systems.

Artist Rudy Burkhardt once wrote that Notley may be “our present-day Homer.” He might be right. In this 147 page tour-de-force, Notley channels the political and the personal in a mix of several longer poems—one is a kind of spy novella in which the author is discovered to be a secret agent of the dead, another an extended message found in a manuscript in a future defunct world—with some unique shorter pieces. Varying formally between long expansive lines, a mysteriously cohering sequence in meters reminiscent of ancient Latin, a narration with a postmodern broken surface, and the occasional sonnet, these are grand poems, inviting the reader to be grand enough to survive, spiritually, a planet’s ruin.

Alice Notley was born in Bisbee, Arizona in 1945 and grew up in Needles, California. She is the author of over 35 books of poetry, including Mysteries of Small Houses, Disobedience, and Grave of Light: New and Selected Poems 1970 – 2005, which received the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Her honors also include an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and The Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. She lives and works in Paris.

The Poem:

They leave you up there he said calling you names
As it gets dark remember for you’ve had the experience
Retaining barely a consciousness the body’d shrink away
But there’s only exposure the necessary fasting you are seen
They want to watch you all humans being empathic predators

And then I said when there is no conventional body
And little recognition of forms as in a violently painful half-sleep
You become your other after they have had you like a feast
This is done everywhere in many ways often subtly in an instant

You may so be done away with I had seen the impossibility
Of living with others yet loving for that was my condition
At the crossroads when they asked me to partake of rules as in
A commune of pretension I left unruly
Who stands by me now he or I say and I said last night
Holding the world together by my total recall
At anyone’s distress they are so sorry sounding like pigeons
They who call themselves poets and have no letters

Selected Works
Songs and Stories of the Ghouls (2011)
Culture of One (2011)
In the Pines (2007)
Grave of Light: New and Selected Poems 1970-2005—won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize
In the Pines (2007)
Alma, or the Dead Women (2006)
From the Beginning (2004)
Disobedience (2001)won the Griffin International Poetry Prize
Mysteries of Small Houses (1998)won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
The Descent of Alette (1996)
To Say You (1993)
Homer’s Art (1990)
From a Work in Progress (1988)
Margaret & Dusty (1985)
Waltzing Matilda (1981)
How Spring Comes (1981)won the San Francisco Poetry Award
For Frank O’Hara’s Birthday (1976)
Incidentals in the Day World (1973)
Phoebe Light (1973)
65 Meeting House Lane (1971)

Links
Alice Notley Awarded 2015 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize
Penguin-Random House: Certain Magical Acts by Alice Notley
Poetry Foundation Biography
Bomb Magazine: Artists in Conversation
Kenyon Review in Conversation with Alice Notley
Rachel Zucker on Alice Notley

Event Details

McCaw Hall — Nesholm Family Lecture Hall

321 Mercer St
Seattle, WA 98109

View directions.

This event will be held in the Nesholm Family Lecture Hall. The Lecture Hall is located in the lower level of Marion Oliver McCaw Hall at Seattle Center. The entrance to the hall is on the north side of the building and east of the main entrance; it directly faces Mercer St. and the door is under the bridge to the Mercer Street Garage.

Transportation & Parking

By Car

  • From I-5
    Take Mercer Street exit (exit 167) and go straight onto Mercer Street westbound. Turn right onto 4th Avenue. Turn left to park in the Seattle Center Mercer Street Garage.
  • From Aurora/Hwy 99 Northbound
    Take the Western Avenue exit. Continue straight on Western Avenue. Turn right onto Battery Street. Turn left onto 1st Avenue. Turn right on Mercer Street. Continue down Mercer Street to drop off patrons directly in front of McCaw Hall, or turn left on 3rd or 4th Avenues to park in the Seattle Center Mercer Street Garage.
  • From Aurora/Hwy 99 Southbound
    Exit right on Roy Street. Turn left on 3rd Avenue North. Turn left to park in the Seattle Center Mercer Street Garage or proceed to the corner of 3rd Avenue and Mercer Street, turn left and proceed immediately to the far right lane to drop off patrons directly in front of McCaw Hall.

By Bus
Bus routes with Seattle Center stops include: 1, 2, 3, 4, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19, 24, 33, and 82. For more information about the routes nearest you, call Metro’s 24-hour Rider Information hotline at (206) 553-3000 or visit Metro online.

Parking
Parking is available at the Mercer Street Garage, conveniently located across the street from McCaw Hall. A covered skybridge provides easy access between level C of the garage and McCaw Hall.

Other garages and parking options are:

  • Fisher Plaza Garage, located in the KOMO Plaza on 4th Avenue N, between Broad St and John St. The entrance is at 451 John St. The quickest way to get to McCaw Hall from here is to walk across the Seattle Center campus, starting from the Space Needle. SAL offers a $5 voucher for this garage. Vouchers may be picked up at SAL’s box office or info table.
  • 5th Avenue North Garage, located at the corner of 5th Avenue and Harrison Street. This is the first garage you will encounter after exiting I-5 and turning onto Harrison Street. It is a 3-block walk to McCaw Hall from this garage.
  • Surface lots are available on either side of Mercer Street between 3rd and 1st Avenues.
  • Southwest Seattle Center garages, for those willing and able to make the short walk across the Seattle Center campus, there are garages located on 1st Avenue North between Thomas and John Streets (south of KeyArena), at the corner of Warren Avenue North and Denny Way (adjacent to the church), and on 2nd Avenue North and Denny Way (adjacent to Pacific Science Center).

Accessibility

All of our venues have accessible seating and listening devices available. Click here for more information about accessibility and ADA services at McCaw Hall.

Please contact us at sal@lectures.org or 206.621.2230 x10 for more details and to let us know you’re coming so we can better accommodate your needs.