Grave of Light: New and Selected Poems 1970-2005

Grave of Light: New and Selected Poems 1970-2005Grave of Light: New and Selected Poems 1970-2005 by Alice Notley
Published by Wesleyan University Press
Published 26 August 2008
364 pages

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Considered by many to be among the most outstanding of living American poets, Alice Notley has amassed a body of work that includes intimate lyrics, experimental diaries, traditional genres, the postmodern series, the newly invented epic, political observation and invective, and the poem as novel. This chronological selection of her most notable work offers a delineation of her life and creative development. Formerly associated with the second generation of the New York School, Notley has become a poet with a completely distinctive voice. Grave of Light is a progression of changing forms and styles an extensive panorama held together explicitly by the shape of the poet s times. Notley s poems challenge their subjects head-on, suffusing language with radiant truth.”


From Love Poems

2/? Saturday


of pen & fingers on paper



divides into sky
window & brick


This is my first time reading this poet. I bought this collection after reading some rave reviews when I was on the hunt for some new poets to try. I found this to be quite a mixed bag of poems. A lot of the poems worked and were enjoyable but almost as much didn’t work for me. Notley is a diverse, talented poet but I expected to enjoy this a lot more. Some poems, especially in the last hundred or so pages were quite a slog to get through. The poems are ordered chronologically and I enjoyed the older poems at the start of the collection a lot more. The poems in the first half are very vivid and full of rich detail. I enjoyed these immensely. After the halfway mark the structure and layout of the poems become quite experimental with one word lines and weird alignment and this really put me off. There are also a bunch of poems in the second half of the collection that consist mainly of random sentences in quotation marks that I really didn’t enjoy. I didn’t get on very well with this collection and really struggled to read the land hundred or so pages. Maybe this is because I don’t like reading 364 page poem collections. Grave of Light started off well but this wasn’t carried all the way through.




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