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.

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