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An important new work of poetry from Alice Notley winner of the 2015 Ruth Lilly Poetry PrizeAlice Notley has become one of the most highly regarded figures in American poetry a master of the visionary mode acclaimed for genre bending book length poems of great ambition and adventurousness  Her newest work sets out to explore the world and its diffic considered tattooing this whole book on2 my body so i can have it with me forever i loved itWrote this review last year when I hoped the world would be less dark revisiting Notley again in the darkness Too lazy for revisions Too lazy for a blog“I see blood sliding like thread a red strand flowing there amid the spring snow I think we’re toppling him by crying out justly but we topple all government in this space banishing their alters their archaisms” 56 I’m thinking about the above uote from Alice Notley’s Certain Magical Acts I’m not sure what to say to be honest with you it left me magically affected perhaps wounded sad and not uite hopeful Hopeful angry then sad again really sad actually I was sitting outside on a beautiful Friday on campus and all I could do was cry and read this book Like serious tears I didn’t know what to do about any of the brokenness she confides and that’s how I felt that she was telling me a secret That there was something I was supposed to do with this secret to make the world less fucked up When I read the last line of the book— “And are us my children cry out with me turn on the lights”—I felt motivated to do something say something 147 I immediately wanted my Emma Goldman Surely there was some way to actively take up this dialogue In the poem dream magical moment that is her newest collection Notley takes up her poetic oeuvre to speak against the tyrant—against the silencing of the female voice the voice of the other the voice that has been othered—I found it impossible not to think of all the political moments happening now The nomination of president elect Trump His choice for VP Mike Pence Cabinet appointments who might as well have walked out of A Clockwork Orange or Animal Farm or The Hunger Games or just insert dystopia here Certain Magical Acts is an important book which uestions not only how language shapes our memory of events but also the ways in which commodity and wealth normalize those events It's everything everyone hates about capitalism that push to consume I see this visual of Pac Man here much as I love the game Perhaps this is the most frightening part though That scarcity and survival have become competing narratives until “No one may be left to dig up our femurs our significant rings our weapons our manuscripts for in ways than war we are killing ourselves” 76 Always with Notley I find myself continually asking how to translate what remains and what about the refrain of rupture mediated experience of terror the domestication of what myth I find it impossible to not think about how this book is in conversation with her previous work Dante awakes from a dream Notley’s speaker “can’t sleep in her dream” already her imagination makes the world strange we begin a search for words which is actually a search for a personal sound that’s a declaration against government poetics misogyny war violence power it’s a declaration for noncompliance—do not comply with the “trickster” those patriarchal ritualized patterns of hatred and disgust We remember disobedience to everything She casts aside the search for enlightenment No religious directions No societal or cultural directions No government or authority sponsored uests She declares “I want everything to be bizarre; I want not to recognize anyone I want to sing in a voice you don’t own that you’ve never heard and judged I don’t want to know where it comes from even though it comes from me” 17 By beginning her poem in dream and letting the reader know that th The Ultimate Triumph (Belisarius sets out to explore the world and its diffic considered tattooing this whole book on2 my body Claiming Addison (69 Bottles, so i can have it with me forever i loved itWrote this review last year when I hoped the world would be less dark revisiting Notley again in the darkness Too lazy for revisions Too lazy for a blog“I Hiding the Affair from Mom (Stepdaughter Confessions, see blood Madita sliding like thread a red The Wild Unknown Tarot Guidebook strand flowing there amid the When Forever Changes (English Edition) spring Curados por la fe snow I think we’re toppling him by crying out justly but we topple all government in this Sweet Melissa: Ignorance is not Bliss (Book One 1) space banishing their alters their archaisms” 56 I’m thinking about the above uote from Alice Notley’s Certain Magical Acts I’m not Step Dad Knows Im a Slut (Stepdaughter Escort, sure what to Second Chance Friends say to be honest with you it left me magically affected perhaps wounded Me Times Three sad and not uite hopeful Hopeful angry then Ambivalent Zen sad again really Strip Poker sad actually I was Lifetimes sitting outside on a beautiful Friday on campus and all I could do was cry and read this book Like Again Calls the Owl serious tears I didn’t know what to do about any of the brokenness Butterfingers she confides and that’s how I felt that Anarchist Modernism she was telling me a Saving the Sheriff (Hills of Texas, secret That there was A River Sutra something I was The Buddha Tarot [With PouchWith Booklet] supposed to do with this Breakup secret to make the world less fucked up When I read the last line of the book— “And are us my children cry out with me turn on the lights”—I felt motivated to do Ring Of Steel something Gandhi say Shattered something 147 I immediately wanted my Emma Goldman Surely there was Hawaii! (Recipe for Adventure, some way to actively take up this dialogue In the poem dream magical moment that is her newest collection Notley takes up her poetic oeuvre to Virtual Economies speak against the tyrant—against the Me and Mr. Fluffernutter silencing of the female voice the voice of the other the voice that has been othered—I found it impossible not to think of all the political moments happening now The nomination of president elect Trump His choice for VP Mike Pence Cabinet appointments who might as well have walked out of A Clockwork Orange or Animal Farm or The Hunger Games or just insert dystopia here Certain Magical Acts is an important book which uestions not only how language Amaryllis shapes our memory of events but also the ways in which commodity and wealth normalize those events It's everything everyone hates about capitalism that push to consume I Crow see this visual of Pac Man here much as I love the game Perhaps this is the most frightening part though That My Name Is Mina scarcity and Kujibiki Unbalance 1 (Kujibiki Unbalance, survival have become competing narratives until “No one may be left to dig up our femurs our Daddys Trailer Park Slut significant rings our weapons our manuscripts for in ways than war we are killing ourselves” 76 Always with Notley I find myself continually asking how to translate what remains and what about the refrain of rupture mediated experience of terror the domestication of what myth I find it impossible to not think about how this book is in conversation with her previous work Dante awakes from a dream Notley’s A Killer Stitch (A Knitting Mystery, speaker “can’t The Handbook of Medicinal Chemistry sleep in her dream” already her imagination makes the world They Say strange we begin a The Auctioneer search for words which is actually a SEO like a PRO - A Beginners Guide to Search Engine Optimization search for a personal The Naughty Corner sound that’s a declaration against government poetics misogyny war violence power it’s a declaration for noncompliance—do not comply with the “trickster” those patriarchal ritualized patterns of hatred and disgust We remember disobedience to everything She casts aside the Resist (Wicked Ways Book 1) search for enlightenment No religious directions No Epilogue societal or cultural directions No government or authority The Horseshoe People sponsored uests She declares “I want everything to be bizarre; I want not to recognize anyone I want to Nyotai-Ka! Volume 4 sing in a voice you don’t own that you’ve never heard and judged I don’t want to know where it comes from even though it comes from me” 17 By beginning her poem in dream and letting the reader know that th

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Certain Magical Acts

Ulties from the recent economic crisis and climate change to the sorrow of violence and the disappointment of democracy or any other political system  Notley channels these themes 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 man Full of myth and myriad voices Notley is definitely one of the best living American poets Asphodel (The Underworld Trilogy, sorrow of violence and the disappointment of democracy or any other political Aquinass Way to God system  Notley channels these themes in a mix of Rebound Roommate (Men of Lake Tahoe Series, several longer poems one is a kind of Cure for the Loneliness spy novella in which the author is discovered to be a Bijoux en origami secret agent of the dead another an extended message found in a man Full of myth and myriad voices Notley is definitely one of the best living American poets

Alice Notley ô 0 READ & DOWNLOAD

Uscript in a future defunct world with some uniue shorter pieces  Varying formally between long expansive lines a mysteriously cohering seuence 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 ru Contains my favourite poem I have heard read aloud this year by the poet 'Blinding the White Horse in Front of Me' By turns distressing apocalyptic vulnerable channelling moments of truth telling scattered with irreverence this book is a dazzling wrenching achievement that really wants poetry to be restored to its rightful place in the imagining of a polis its intimacy with our hearts souls most profoundly its power as account both agitating for vengeance loosing the speaker from the bonds of striving for that which would otherwise kill them Transformation terror You have to read it Operation Kangaroo Trap some uniue To Charles Fort, With Love shorter pieces  Varying formally between long expansive lines a mysteriously cohering Fearful Symmetry seuence in meters reminiscent of ancient Latin a narration with a postmodern broken Bon Appetit, Yall surface and the occasional The Beast on the Brink sonnet these are grand poems inviting the reader to be grand enough to The 6 Stages of Sissyhood survive Concubine spiritually a planet's ru Contains my favourite poem I have heard read aloud this year by the poet 'Blinding the White Horse in Front of Me' By turns distressing apocalyptic vulnerable channelling moments of truth telling Flower and The Beast 2 scattered with irreverence this book is a dazzling wrenching achievement that really wants poetry to be restored to its rightful place in the imagining of a polis its intimacy with our hearts I Do, Two souls most profoundly its power as account both agitating for vengeance loosing the Lasers speaker from the bonds of She Weeps Each Time Youre Born striving for that which would otherwise kill them Transformation terror You have to read it


10 thoughts on “Certain Magical Acts

  1. says:

    considered tattooing this whole book on2 my body so i can have it with me forever i loved itWrote this review last year when I hoped the world would be less dark revisiting Notley again in the darkness Too lazy for revisions Too lazy for a blog“I see blood sliding like thread a red strand flowing there amid the spring snow I think we’re toppling him by crying out justly but we topple all government in this space banishing their alters their archaisms” 56 I’m thinking about the above uote from Alice Notley’s Certain Magical Acts I’m not sure what to say to be honest with you it left me magically affected perhaps wounded sad and not uite hopeful Hopeful angry then sad again really sad actually I was sitting outside on a beautiful Friday on campus and all I could do was cry and read this book Like serious tears I didn’t know what to do about any of the brokenness she confides and that’s how I felt that she was telling me a secret That there was something I was supposed to do with this secret to make the world less fucked up When I read the last line of the book— “And are us my children cry out with me turn on the lights”—I felt motivated to do something say something 147 I immediately wanted my Emma Goldman Surely there was some way to actively take up this dialogue In the poem dream magical moment that is her newest collection Notley takes up her poetic oeuvre to speak against the tyrant—against the silencing of the female voice the voice of the other the voice that has been othered—I found it impossible not to think of all the political moments happening now The nomination of president elect Trump His choice for VP Mike Pence Cabinet appointments who might as well have walked out of A Clockwork Orange or Animal Farm or The Hunger Games or just insert dystopia here Certain Magical Acts is an important book which uestions not only how language shapes our memory of events but also the ways in which commodity and wealth normalize those events It's everything everyone hates about capitalism that push to consume I see this visual of Pac Man here much as I love the game Perhaps this is the most frightening part though That scarcity and survival have become competing narratives until “No one may be left to dig up our femurs our significant rings our weapons our manuscripts for in ways than war we are killing ourselves” 76 Always with Notley I find myself continually asking how to translate what remains and what about the refrain of rupture mediated experience of terror the domestication of what myth I find it impossible to not think about how this book is in conversation with her previous work Dante awakes from a dream Notley’s speaker “can’t sleep in her dream” already her imagination makes the world strange we begin a search for words which is actually a search for a personal sound that’s a declaration against government poetics misogyny war violence power it’s a declaration for noncompliance—do not comply with the “trickster” those patriarchal ritualized patterns of hatred and disgust We remember disobedience to everything She casts aside the search for enlightenment No religious directions No societal or cultural directions No government or authority sponsored uests She declares “I want everything to be bizarre; I want not to recognize anyone I want to sing in a voice you don’t own that you’ve never heard and judged I don’t want to know where it comes from even though it comes from me” 17 By beginning her poem in dream and letting the reader know that there is no waking from it that dream is reality imagination and experience take precedence She rejects origin—she rejects origin—which is patriarchal in its obsession of whose father is whose that classist lineage its obsession with where we come from by whom we came By rejecting origin her speaker makes herself She sets the terms of her own real Notley is asking what do we mean now what is at stake in this meaning— “I’m not interested in style or syntax or vocabulary But I am They crowd around me in the dark; it’s hard to hear” 12 I’m not interested in vocabulary but I need them to communicate I struggle with this mediation Notley expresses an intense criticism of words in all her work— “I have never been words but words have never been words In language I combine my flesh with yours and you with mine; my flesh is tender my skin aches from knowing you my hand can’t really touch you but if you say “I” I’ll say “I” I want to say “we” but I can’t” 19 The poem here becomes erotic and the magic in the poem allows not only access to death allows access to healing to think outside frames to imagine ways to unframe Like the modernists I see influencing her Woolf and Stein for example she mistrusts the materials that make up language emphasis on make up Smarter scholars than me have discussed this—Susan McCabe Maggie Nelson Claudia Keelan etc She distrusts words precisely because they are often used to moderate experience and assumed objective I myself feel a little paranoid here what is their to trust Words are events in language and they call into existence themselves Notley tries to get as close to the experience of the event as possible She says “I say the same things all the time because there’s repetition built into time to make it timeless I helped build it in I help do everything” 16 Unlike Eliot Notley never becomes paralyzed by the anxiety of the moment It’s not anxiety that drives her to search for something new in these poems it’s the desire to be alive She says “The human condition is not what anyone has said There are forces in charge of us that have never been named And will I name them?” 95 Naming things makes things real she continues and by making things real for us “Effable and known to you” she’s asking us now what now how are you going to precede How do you want to be in conversation with these various institutional hierarchies these intersecting oppressions In one of the moments I keep revisiting she asserts “I can’t be this woman who’s treated like an animal naked in a picture for you genitals and a face of intelligence but you can’t see that You’ve been brought up to think it’s normal for women to be naked everywhere and you tell them to do this work for you” 16 The domestication of violence often enacted on female bodies is vicious To navigate abusive sexist predatory language in the workplace in the classroom on a daily basis is terrifying I just listened to Michele Obama’s speech on Donald Trump’s blatant use of predatory language and sexual abuse and I can’t help but find this book politically relevant Sometimes when I’m watching TV when I watched the 2016 debates I couldn’t help but shout we are not objects not animals I felt a little crazy for needing to say this out loud the make the space around me less oppressive but fuck I think we need this kind of outrage right now I also shouted WTF WTF really uite a lot as well Alette descends into the dark of the subway into the world beneath I’m thinking about what it means to write from the dark There’s a lot of light and dark in Notley a lot of underneath beneath inside of In mythology the dark often promises rebirth or destruction often rebirth by way of destruction It seems the dark is reuired to imagine anything anew This calls to mind Notley’s words “The final dissolution and rebirth is taking place in darkness and what will be born probably hasn’t been seen yet because no one has walked straight into the dark and stayed awhile” Then comes her challenge “To break and recombine language is nothing To break and recombine reality as Dream always does might be something” I’m struck by how true her sentence rings she’s writing out of the dark out of a literary tradition which has historically recognized white male heteronormative writers Which has as part of its project silenced women people of color lgbt writers I’m also thinking about how important dreams are to Notley’s oeuvre once again speaking against these phantom empires of absolute authority against the unprofitable inheritance of the historically colonized female body against a history a record of events that has coopted our voices left us voiceless She searches for a sound finding words inadeuate at translating her experience as an outsider She searches for that sound untouched by time— “Who are you in us disrupting our measure?” She answers this uestion herself as well as she perhaps cuts the strings of the playwright in order to locate a voice not mediated by time— “Playwright agitator Any voice acts in its shaping of sound my role of the slave is primary Anybody can be one a slave—is a voice so?” 56 While I do think she’s frustrated with this she also implies that the only way to write a female epic is to imagine this beginning to begin in the dark as Notley’s epics before Certain Magical Acts have done The epic is a strange form because it is a public form That’s where the pain rests for Notley because she comes to the epic as all poets of the epic do as a way to grieve To deal with loss and war and grief An epic isn’t a single person’s grief It’s the recorded grief of a people I’m recalling Alma or The Dead Woman here which if it is about anything is also about this—how does AletteAlice deal with the loss of her brother how does the world survive in the wake of Vietnam She was searching for a model for how to deal with grief that was not cut from a male cloth For as much as I love capable Antigone rescued Helen Penelope Persephone Andromeda Dido Clytemnestra Cassandra Medea who was probably my first literary crush Those Greek Goddesses—Athena Aphrodite Artemis Hera Even lovely war ending Lysistrata All these women’s stories have been shaped by men— “But Helen couldn’t be a person not a real person now no No woman is like Helen no matter what the male poets say or like Andromache or Penelope Only men are like them in the sense that they invented them” 188 She implores us to invent again In Certain Magical Acts the speaker isn’t invented by anyone has no origin is restless in a dream that has within it a broken moon another fuck off to origin and all these stories all these voices are no longer privileging enlightenment or truth because they know the body has to go I recall Gertrude Stein’s words when she says something like the human head knows this the eventuality of death that we all die so the world goes on but the human heart does not It’s funny to me to think about what a romantic Gertrude Stein was Poetry’s providence here is the constant putting away of the body—it’s the uestioning of the nature of what it is to be in a body that dies what is it to be here I’m thinking now about the violence we have to navigate on a daily basis—how absurd that is even a consideration what violence do I have to navigate today what violence do I need to know so that my body can continue unwounded And implicitly how has my body learned violence The entirety of the body to invoke Olson is involved in Notley’s poem—I can’t sleep in Notley’s dream either It’s not safe Telling stories participating in storytelling is the spell she’s casting That’s Notley’s power The world is talking the many catastrophes of this world of past worlds are speaking and time speaks words speak the manuscript speaks It’s an incredibly layered poem play I’m remembering that moment in The Descent when Alette murders the tyrant figure and emerges from the subway victorious—yet she’s still in the body of the tyrant He’s dead and there’s the looming work of freeing us from the cage of his dead body That’s horrific right? To write towards that wound of translating the self out of systematic violence racism through language inherently appropriated is the task Poems to bring my thoughts back to Certain Magical Acts and Alice Notley give us the permission to talk about how words stick to the real how they shape and influence what realness Notley says perhaps better than Whitman ever could— “I am always the spirit of than myself” 31 This book did cast a spell as much as it is filled with weariness it’s also a healing invocation It asks us if we must define and label ourselves our identities our ways of being that we do so in a way which does not exclude other identities selves ways of being sexualities genders races It is very romantic when I think about it that way isn’t it—to hope that there would be room for multiple ways of being To hope that I could understand myself in a way that didn’t threaten you To hope that your sense of self didn’t depend on dehumanizing mine And here I recall Audre Lorde’s words “Once you start to speak people will yell at you They will interrupt you put you down and suggest it’s personal” She continues to say “And the world won’t end” and cautions us that frightening than speaking what you know to be true in times when the whole world is burning itself down is not speaking your truth I don’t really like making broad claims about what poetry or art or literature or whatever should do I have to admit right now as the world is fucking itself over that I do feel a certain obligation to shout NO very loudly in public I feel like this might be the only way to save some sanity in the present moment Notley’s Certain Magical Acts is a spell of healing and anger it is ready to invent the world as many times as the world needs inventing it has not given up on us though perhaps it thinks we may have given up on ourselves it’s willing to let a multiplicity of voices into its invention and it asks us reader to do the same


  2. says:

    You used totake my breathaway Nowno one doesyou see all night in your dreams And the blue of my voice can’t help but see you Your thoughts wouldn’t bear remembering I’m courting chaos in me


  3. says:

    Time exists to be brutal inNotley is writing about the apocalypse which is here which is life as we know it It's a haunting book but an important one Reminiscent at least on the level of content of Sasha West's great collection FAILURE AND I BURY THE BODY in that the poems look outward toward devastation ecological cultural and simultaneously feel so distinctly inward private and personal To follow Notley's mind as it moves through language and the world is what I wish all reading felt like


  4. says:

    Full of myth and myriad voices Notley is definitely one of the best living American poets


  5. says:

    I was very much ambivalent about Certain Magical Acts There were moments that I really liked but also moments that I found to be utterly incomprehensible and not in the emotionally resonant way that I like in work like Brigit Pegeen Kelly's or Larry Levis's Some of Notley's poems were brilliant but much of the book I found difficult without density and obliue without a sense of endpoint I like climbing steep walls in my verse but I like to have at least a few visible handholds and I didn't find many in most of this bookLyrically Notley's best pieces are fluid and interesting like in Blinding the White Horse in Front of Me which I liked well enough but didn't love and which begins Blinding the white horse in front of me If I ride on it Have you forgotten yourself enough to come with me? Hurts so That's just loss This whole within This was one of the comprehensible poems although it was not perfectly so and many of the poems displayed the unusual diffculty of each sentence making good sense and seeming to follow from the previous one but I often had no idea what I had just read even in a literal what did the words say even if I only take them literally and don't really try to make comprehensive sense out of them sort of way The pieces I liked the least tended towards this strongly for me like this excerpt from Found Work lost lace a very long poem in the middle of the book With an ancient harmonica I got to be man wrong be man wrong The old man built a slump upon his backMy favorite poems were probably Two of Swords Nine and Ten both sorts of fantasias on tarot and probably the most comprehensible pieces in the book I Went Down There a sort of dream seuence of womanness and communication? Maybe? but resonant in ways most of the book was not for me and Private Life The Names another long poem and difficult to follow but it had some truly beautiful sections The rest were either fine like Blinding the White Horse in Front of Me or did nothing for me at all


  6. says:

    Innovative in terms of formatting and choices of sectioning the book Highly recommend


  7. says:

    My first encounter of Notley's work was The Descent of Allette two years ago which I had a very mixed experience with It's probably a big indicator of how far I've come since then and how I've grown because I had uite a different experience with this collection There were still sections in Certain Magical Acts which I didn't fully understand or connect with because of their literary acrobatics but one in particular Blinding the White Horse in Front of Me was absolutely stellar and the strongest indicator of what this collection is about I felt Notley's work maintains some of that mystical haunting and feminist uality that I encountered previously in her work but it now also has a strong overtone of the apocalyptic of the now which we are experiencing It's a call to action in the most pointed yet elegant way possible There is great truth and weight to the many images and metaphorical situations Notley conjures throughout these poems as well as an overpowering sense of relevance Certain Magical Acts is a collection that needs to be read and felt especially now It also made me want to sit next to Notley and ask for her blessing to be initiated into whatever cult she has consciously or unconsciously created


  8. says:

    Contains my favourite poem I have heard read aloud this year by the poet 'Blinding the White Horse in Front of Me' By turns distressing apocalyptic vulnerable channelling moments of truth telling scattered with irreverence this book is a dazzling wrenching achievement that really wants poetry to be restored to its rightful place in the imagining of a polis its intimacy with our hearts souls most profoundly its power as account both agitating for vengeance loosing the speaker from the bonds of striving for that which would otherwise kill them Transformation terror You have to read it


  9. says:

    I haven't read a poetry collection I enjoyed so much in a very long time These poems sort of pick up with the story of Cassandra the prophetess; I loved all the allusions to mythology but I also loved the idea of the journey down and inward to come back out of some interior state of hell or death and then proceed to go forth and communicate that vision to the world I don't even know where to begin with analyzing this


  10. says:

    I want to love this and probably would but every time I try reading one of the poems there is this feeling that there are words missing or punctuation and I just get stuck on it It feels jarring and I'm sure it's the on the poetry's fault It is poetry after all and the author is allowed to creative freedoms but this is just not for me at least not right now Will probably pick it up again down the line