A Note on the Audio

To a fault, I’m a nostalgist; I live in the past, inordinately fond of all that I will never be able to remember. Over the past year and a half I’ve probably been 30 of the, circa this writing, 693 views that Alice Notley and Eileen Myles’ 1977 Public Access Television reading has garnered. Being that I’m 33 I was -7 years old in 1977 but seeing two of my favorite poets read their work when they were nearabouts my age (Myles being in their late 20’s, Notley in her early 30’s) is slyly revelatory. I can’t remember this reading but I recall it tenderly. Watching it further reminds me that Alice Notley and Eileen Myles weren’t always Alice Notley and Eileen Myles. They were instead just writers, ones giving occasional readings, the same way we’re all just writers, ones giving occasional readings. Listening to these two poets read in 1977 is inspiring, to resort to that most facile of words. But it’s true—I’m inspired when I watch the past contained within this YouTube clip. And I hope I’m not the only one.

Fonograf Editions, the vinyl record-only poetry press that I co-do, put out an album last year by Eileen Myles, which was a big deal for us. And later this year we’ll also be putting out an album by Alice Notley, one recorded live in Seattle earlier this year. (Thank you so much again for all the help, Seattle Arts & Lectures!) As with Myles’ Aloha/irish trees, we’re really excited about Notley’s LP Live in Seattle. There’s nothing I can say about her poetry that hasn’t been said before, but what I can impart is that I first encountered her work when I was dead-set on writing just one type of poem—a moderately surreal schoolkid gumball type of thing—and reading her selected volume Grave of Light and, of course, immortal Descent of Alette made me fully aware how narrowminded my deadsetting decision was. Alice Notley’s poems made me want to be a better poet in every sense and it’s thus a supreme honor for Fonograf to be putting out an album by her. To be released this September, Live in Seattle features Notley reading poems from her latest book Certain Magical Acts, as well as snippets from the onstage interview and discussion she had with the former owners of Seattle’s amazing poetry-only bookstore Open Books. Insight abounds throughout.

Jeff Alessandrelli, Fonograf Editions

Voices

Found Work (Lost Lace)

Question

New Poem: County

I'm staring at end of bed San Bernardino County
blanket draped    I grew up in that county
now I'm too old to have done that or too far away
inside the microparticles the memory glue of you
The last time I went there Momma's funeral
Then that summer in Needles hottest rain ever recorded
In 2015 the San Bernardino terrorist massacre those

convex faces in their US Border Patrol photo
I am always so sick trying to accommodate what you
do    What do I remember Xmas 2015 everyone al-
ready sad here from Nov 13 attentats    and those that
the whole Arab world endures the poem coheres
the one you didn't want you say was she too
rich for heartbreak or she too successful

I didn't know something what was it how to be
popular I'd tried not to since I discovered you had to
kill at least figuratively    you might wish an
entire race dead or pity another every day
'she is using it'    high above and maybe above
you I hear the tones whir change    what's hate
something that feels really good I've been told

wear shades wear a mask or cloth over-face who
a Venetian when the play starts to protect you
from scrutiny for what purpose at perpetual
carnival a lit crit favorite    don't enter he says I'm
cleaning up now I realize I didn't properly I say
fill out the application for the TS Eliot Award
now it's too late in my life in a popular quartier

Yet I'm dreaming of you O memory
how you protect from dissolution the stars any kind
if I could only know what really happened
I had to she says the terrorist by my logic what
else is there    the memory that love is I say
that I will give you anyway all there is being
intermixture but the greatest of these isn't faith but illogical charity

Alice Notley

Alice Notley was born in Bisbee, Arizona in 1945 and grew up in Needles, California in the Mojave Desert. She was educated in the Needles public schools, Barnard College, and The Writers Workshop, University of Iowa. She is the author of numerous books of poetry, and of essays and talks on poetry, and has edited and co-edited books by Ted Berrigan and Douglas Oliver. She edited the magazine CHICAGO in the 70s and co-edited with Oliver the magazines SCARLET and Gare du Nord in the 90s. She is the recipient of the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the Griffin Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award, the Lenore Marshall Prize, and the Poetry Foundation’s Ruth Lilly Prize. Her latest book is Certain Magical Acts, from Penguin.

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