Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Poetry Book Club's Response to The Descent of Alette by Alice Notley

I'll tell ya it's 1986 New York City subways.

Responding to the Vietnam War.

Question of responsibility: killing, having to kill. Fairness. Having never given birth. What do you understand.

Subway v. Metro. AIDS era. Angels in America.

THE QUOTATIONS. Speech weakened. Perpetual overturning of thoughts. Breaks. Makes you pay attention. Storyish, narrative driven but not building. Seeing in dreams and images. Descent of Inanna. To build this book? Cave or Subway? Writing consciousness, a story "told." Unfolding in the process. Space to fill in.

Poems as poems. Descend down them. Each poem is its own unit. Lyric poetry accumulative. Snakelike in form, going forward, looking back. Track those threads: light, birds, form, darkness. Inferno closure is important.

We realize our own strength when we're powerless.

Visuals driving the action. Action v. image. Each encounter, action.

Each subway car is a new world. Levels of consciousness. Feminist revelations.

Chronological or not.

Allegory of the cave.

Catholic/Christian Paradise. Adamless Paradise. Snakes. Enticed by serpents and drugs. Adamless = female snake. DNA helix.

p. 19--embracing the darkness. Darkness as shedding the body, womb, blood, earthiness.

Finding the form The Tyrant doesn't own. The Tyrant isn't a person but a consciousness. Tyrant as history. Masculine ideas of history. Having never given birth. What do you understand. The female Oedipal story.

Fire baby. Vision seeing this happen. Vietnam.

Light Made New. Pound Plug!

Literary Function. Will voice state of affairs. Are we writing answers to questions. Or writing the state of affairs. Is this ending hopeful?!? Triumph over the message. Changing the way we think. Imagination changes the status quo. Works of art v. mapping out the future. Constraints in our existence. Breaking through state of affairs.

Owl: good daddy v. bad daddy.

A Poetry Book Club's Response to Spring and All by William Carlos Williams

In control, out of control. The idea of the thing. The thing itself. Cutting himself off.

What is the experiment. Connection between poetry and prose. Wanting you to connect it to the poetry. Poems and prose working ON you.

Doing nothing. Imagination without emotional connection. Everyday objects. Artist and the farmer. One thing couched in another.

Red Wheelbarrow: shocking "in here." What does depend on it?

What does it mean for poetry to imitate life. Writing a poetry he can't quite write yet. Supreme importance. Nameless spectacle. Moment of cleavage.

Emerson, Nietzstche. Old turning over the new. Romanticism. Something lost. Disorganization principle. Emerson disobedience. Relatedness. Are these the ideas most poets operate.

Personality. Dialectic. In dialogue. Drawing on.

Projects of NOW: v. learning then, pure and puritanism, inclusive, redundancy, completeness. Always now. What is suspense. Dottie Lasky. Marianne Moore.

Excess. Spring... and all!