Yale Working Group in Contemporary Poetry

April 5: Alice Notley

Posted in Announcements, Events, WGCP Communications by beineckepoetry on April 12, 2013

The WGCP will meet with poet Alice Notley to discuss her work , specifically one of her latest collections, Culture of One, on Friday, April 19  at 3 PM-5PM in room B04 of the Whitney Humanities Center.  Below please find a series of questions that are drawn from the WGCP’s recent conversation about Culture of One. These questions will serve as a kind of framework for our next session.

Notley will be giving a reading at the Beinecke the day before, Thursday the 18 at 4 PM.  (more information: http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/about/blogs/poetry-beinecke-library/2013/04/01/alice-notley-poetry-reading)


Questions for Alice Notley from Yale Poetics Seminar to be held Friday April 19, from 3 PM-5PM

1).  In looking through Culture of One, a reader can trace a number of threads pulled from various cultures and belief systems.  For instance, not only are there allusions and gestures drawn from the Western Canon and Judeo-Christian beliefs, but also references to Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism.  Could you say something about your relationship to these Eastern belief systems?  What role do they play in your thinking about Culture of One?

2) Given that there is a sort of loose conception of narrative (one continually reshaped by an investment in lyric and song, would you say something about the compositional process of writing Culture of One.  For example, was there a structure in place before you began?  Were you continually ordering and reordering poems? Were the opening poems (before Marie actually appears) written first? Last?

3) How do you see your thoughts about epic—and specifically a feminine epic—having evolved over the years?  Is Culture of One a collection that addresses that mode? Is Culture of One consciously a response to Eliot’s “The Wasteland”? What were other models you borrowed from?

4) Do you have a sense of audience in mind when you write?  Given the depth of some of the allusions, do you imagine an audience that will get all these?  What is your thinking about a reader’s responsibility to a text?

5) What do you see as the cultural role of poetry and the poet, specifically in our contemporary moment?

6) What do you see as the tone of the collection?  How were you trying to establish this? Particularly there was discussion about the final poem and whether you yourself see this as a kind hopeful and redemptive moment, or whether it suggests that Marie is exiled to herself (rather than liberated).  This isn’t a question intending for to elicit and explanation.  Instead, it is directed towards your sense of what constitutes a culture of one and if you wanted to write towards that or bring its possibilities into question.


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