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MFA Reading Series: Alice Notley

October 27, 2023 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm MDT

The MFA Reading Series presents Alice Notley, one of the greatest living American poets. The author of over forty books of poetry, “Notley […] consistently pushes up against the limitations of language, [and her work] seems to issue from an alternate reality,” writes The Los Angeles Review of Books. “One of the singular voices in contemporary American poetry” (The New Yorker), Notley became a finalist for Pulitzer Prize in 1998, and the winner of the Ruth Lilly Prize for lifetime achievement in poetry in 2015. Writing for The Kenyon Review, David Baker says, “Notley’s poetry takes many shapes and forms, from intensely personal poems to political narratives, from an experimental vigor to traditional lyricism. Like others of the New York School, Notley often crafts her poems as visual evocations, sifting her words across the page, sorting and decentering her phrases, and treating language as artistic material as much as a vehicle for the transfer of cognitive meaning. ‘It’s necessary,’ she has said, ‘to maintain a state of disobedience against . . . everything.’ ”

Notley will give a reading on Friday, October 27 at 7:30 PM in The Hemingway Center, followed by a book signing. Free and open to the public, the MFA Reading Series brings renowned writers to the Boise State campus each year.

Born in Bisbee, Arizona, on November 8, 1945, Alice Notley grew up in Needles, California, in the Mojave Desert. She attended the Needles public schools, Barnard College, and The Writers Workshop, University of Iowa, receiving an MFA in Fiction and Poetry from the latter. During the late 60s and early 70s, she lived a traveling poet’s life (San Francisco, Bolinas, London, Wivenhoe, Chicago) before settling on New York’s Lower East Side. An important force in the eclectic second generation of the so-called New York School, Notley lived in New York for sixteen years. In 1992 she moved to Paris, France and has remained there ever since, generally practicing no profession except for the writing, publication, and performance of her work and the teaching of an occasional workshop.

Notley authored more than forty books of poetry, including “At Night the States,” the double volume “Close to Me and Closer . . . (The Language of Heaven) and Désamère,” and “How Spring Comes,” a co-winner of the San Francisco Poetry Award. Penguin published her epic poem “The Descent of Alette” in 1996, followed by “Mysteries of Small Houses” (1998), one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize and the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry. Notley’s long poem “Disobedience” won the Griffin International Prize in 2002. In 2005, the University of Michigan Press published a book of essays on poetry, “Coming After.” Notley also published many other books and written stacks of unpublished pages, being a compulsive writer. In addition, she edited “The Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan” (University of California Press), with her sons, the poets Anselm Berrigan and Edmund Berrigan, as co-editors. The three of them edited together, most recently, a volume of Ted Berrigan’s prose, “Get The Money!” Notley also edited two volumes of work by the British poet and prose writer, Douglas Oliver. Her own most recent books of poetry include “Early Works,” “The Speak Angel Series,” and “For the Ride.” Over the years, Notley edited or co-edited three poetry journals: CHICAGO, SCARLET, and Gare du Nord. In 2015, she won the Ruth Lilly Prize for lifetime achievement in poetry.