Mar 12 2015

Poet Republik-Alice Notley

March is Women’s History month. As a tribute, I would like to share one of my favorite poets of all time, Alice Notley. She may resist categorization, but she has done more for women’s poetics than possibly any other poet alive. If you don’t believe me, please read, The Descent of Alette. Who is a woman who has inspired you?


I step across and can no longer make myself understood.
Listen to Torna a Sorrento concentratedly
I don’t understand Italian I understand the song.

I’m here. You can’t return because
a former life is not available; they read dis-
sertations there now. The clean glass of sparkling
water is for my mother.

                                     Who will I write
for, alive? Into the air of you. This sadness,
rather than gotten rid of, is become another;
a quality both thicker and lighter

You still don’t understand that you too must
change; you value phantoms: I’m talking
to you — but my phantoms are real. You all
value material comfort over knowing a thing–

who is speaking?
I have none; the counterclock stops; though
it’s late where you are.

Alice Notley is the author of over twenty-five books of poetry, including 165 Meeting House Lane (1971), Phoebe Light (1973), Incidentals in the Day World (1973), For Frank O’Hara’s Birthday (1976), Alice Ordered Me to Be Made: Poems 1975 (1976), Dr. Williams’ Heiresses (1980), How Spring Comes (1981), which received the San Francisco Poetry Award, Waltzing Matilda (1981), Margaret & Dusty (1985), From a Work in Progress (1988), Homer’s Art (1990), To Say You (1993), Selected Poems of Alice Notley (1993), The Descent of Alette (1996), among many others. Mysteries of Small Houses (1998) won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and her collection Disobedience (2001) was awarded the Griffin International Poetry Prize. Notley’s recent work includes From the Beginning (2004), Alma, or the Dead Women (2006), Grave of Light: New and Selected Poems 1970-2005), which received the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, In the Pines (2007), Culture of One (2011), and Songs and Stories of the Ghouls (2011).

originally published in Ping-Pong 2014.


65 Responses to Poet Republik-Alice Notley
  1. B. Guerrero says:

    This reminds me of a poem by Naomi Johnson, “The Strength of a Woman”.

  2. K.F says:

    My woman

    She taught me how to deal with sadness
    She taught me how to forget anger
    She taught me how to throw away jealous

    She showed me what love was
    She showed me what brave was
    She showed me what hope was

    She listened me when I was happy
    She listened me when I was sad
    She listened me well always…

    I miss you, mom.

  3. C. Cisneros says:


    Their title bears the same word as their “superiors.” And yet, despite the longer word, they have been treated with disrespect.

    Women are equal to men. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

  4. G. Hueramo says:

    One of my Heroes is Dolores Huerta not only a Hispanic leader but she also was a woman leader. She fought for equality while still keeping her beliefs and going against what was not right.

  5. L.Mosqueda says:

    She combed my hair and told me stories of her childhood,
    gave me unconditional love,
    took me to the park every day as a little girl
    and with arms wide open to greet me at her door.
    She was one of the few that saw me grow but,
    little did I know God only let me borrow her.
    I miss who seemed to be another mom to me
    My Grandmother Margarita.

  6. B. Amestoy says:

    J.K. Rowling is a greath female author… Harry Potter and her short stories… Read them all and be sucked in…

  7. E Oakley says:

    Bessie Smith is an early jazz/blues vocalist from the 1920-30s. As the first African American woman to play on national television with a white orchestra, it’s no doubt that she was a popular and prominent figure in those times. Anecdotally, she single handedly chased off several members of the KKK intending on burning the venue of one of her concerts; now that’s a woman!

  8. A. Garcia says:

    Maya Angelou was powerful, strong, and forceful, her poetry and writing changed generations. She was a very empowering women especially with her quotes. Here is one of her many quotes that I love that inspires me everyday, “You will face many defeats in your life, but never let yourself be defeated.”

  9. V Teraji says:

    There are many heroic women that have lived before us and that are still living today. One of my favorites is Rosa Parks. She stood up for what she believed in such a simple way. To be considered the “mother of the freedom movement” is something I greatly admire. Just an ordinary human doing extraordinary things.

  10. M Almanza says:

    Oh BEAUTIFUL grandma
    Happiness is what you taught me
    Because admiration is what I have for you
    Everything you gave me
    Always supported me
    Unconditional love is all you gave me
    Those memories I cherish
    In my heart I will always take you
    For ever
    Until the very last day
    Let’s just say you were my beautiful mother

  11. R. Dawson says:

    Artemisia Gentileschi is one of the first great feminist artists. Her women aren’t the delicate, modest women that male painters love. They’re powerful and ready to conquer.Her painting of Judith Slaying Holofernes is amazing. I love this painting, and the fact that it shows the beheading as a bloody struggle whereas most representations are shown as effortless.

  12. C Rendon says:

    Erykah Badu and Jill Scott are two women who I respect dearly for their contribution to music. Their lyrics and voices spoke to me at a very young age, learning about the womens’ uphill battle for equality, respect, peace, and most important of all withstanding love (for one’s self and others), which translate to both genders. They have beautiful, powerful, poetic voices that instilled in me those qualities needed for understanding, empathy, and poetry. I love those women for all they stand for.

  13. H Dunston says:

    Working hands of love and grace,
    Smiles and laughter, a warmed embrace.
    She gave to us and gave to you,
    A nurse with tender hands of care,
    Yet always home to share a prayer.
    Rest well Mother…Rest Well.

  14. E. Perez says:

    Mexican artist Frida Kahlo remembered for her self-portraits, pain and passion, and bold, vibrant colors. She is celebrated in Mexico for her attention to Mexican and indigenous culture and by feminists for her depiction of the female experience and form. A true example.

  15. Z. Cnudde says:

    This is only the first part of the poem “Still I Rise.” I decided to look for a very influential writer of our time (although she passed away in 2014).

    Still I Rise

    You may write me down in history
    With your bitter, twisted lies,
    You may tread me in the very dirt
    But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

    -Maya Angelou

  16. D Espinoza says:

    One of my favorite female writers is Emily Dickinson. I have read a lot of her work and she always seems to drive home some powerful female-empowering message.

  17. S Martinez says:

    Dolores Huerta is a woman I look up to. She fought for farm workers and Latina women. Huerta fought to break down the barrier of gender discrimination and encouraged Latina women to aspire to more in life. She is a strong woman who worked diligently and got ahead in life by working hard which is something I aspire to do.

  18. N Montoya says:

    My first unconditional friend and teacher, unpaid psychologist, therapist, and nurse. Always there to protect me, and to nurture me. You embrace my talents, build my self-esteem, guide me through the most difficult years in life, and your love always unconditional towards me no matter what…
    My Mother

  19. N coyazo says:

    One of my here is Florence Nightingale’s also known as the “Lady with the Lamp. Florence established the nursing profession as a profession for women. Florence changed the stereotype of the nursing profession. One of the books that I recommend is call “God has spoke to me and called me to His service”.

  20. I Nava says:

    A grief that cannot be spoken is what consumed my heart the dreaded night you left this earth forever. I will never get over the fact that such an amazing women like yourself has been riding in heaven for the past four years. You were so young and full of life. I would have graven anything for that truck to hit me rather than yourself. You didn’t deserve all those tears that people still cry over you. My heart was cold after you and now it is still cold when thoughts of you come to mind. Maybe one day I can be okay with your death but for now all I can say is that you will never be forgotten my beautiful friend.

  21. C Yanez says:

    Winnie Mandela is a woman who I really admire. She had so much courage and strength to fight for the freedoms and rights of blacks in South Africa, alongside her husband Nelson Mandela. I couldn’t imagine how trying the journey became when Nelson was incarcerated and also when she too was incarcerated. Despite the great hardships she faced along the way, she didn’t give up, and she fought until freedom was won.

  22. A.Hernandez says:

    A woman I really admire and applaud is Hillary Rodham Clinton. She has succeeded in a world that no woman has. She’s more powerful than her husband who is a former president. She has been the first woman to do a lot of things. Don’t be surprised if she becomes the first female president.

  23. N. Huerta says:

    Given that I am such a science-nut… One of my greatest women heroes is Marie Curie, the two-time Nobel Prize winner. One in physics and in chemistry, she paved the way for women to be successful and taken seriously in the sciences.

    “I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy.”-Marie Curie

  24. A. Valles says:

    This poem reminded me of a book I read some years ago- “The Lace Reader” by Brunonia Barry. The specific line which brought to mind childhood trauma, like that in the book, was- “a former life is not available”. Hauntingly awesome quote.

  25. D Sims says:

    Emily Dickinson, I have been reading her poetry since I was very young and she is one of the authors that inspired me to start writing. My favorite poem would have to be this one :Because I could not stop for Death –
    He kindly stopped for me –
    The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
    And Immortality.
    She was a strong woman that faced up to what most of us fear the most- death- at least in her writing.

  26. P. Romero says:

    My Mother,

    The woman that no one else can compare to

    The loving, strong, beautiful woman that brought me to this earth

    The one who always puts everyone else before her

    She taught me right from wrong

    And forever I will be grateful for her.

  27. A. Haro says:

    Oprah Winfrey. A talk-show host, actress, and producer. First African-American woman to have the status of a billionaire, with the net worth of 3 billion dollars. She also has the number one T.V. talk show in history. This woman is an inspiration to all. Work hard and follow your passion and you will have success, is the message I receive from her accomplishments.

  28. P.Rodriguez says:

    A book I recommend to read is a hilarious novel called Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me ? (And other concerns) by a women named, Mindy Kaling. She not only super funny in the book but in fact has her own show called: The Mindy Project which is also filled with hilarious material. Mindy also happens to be a honorable feminist.

  29. s bell says:

    “You still don’t understand that you too must
    change; you value phantoms: I’m talking
    to you — but my phantoms are real. ” this is a great poem , this is my favorite part it has a lot of meaning

  30. s schultz says:

    One of my all time favorite female hero’s is Rosa Parks. I look up to her because times were horrible back in the day and she had the courage to stand up for herself and others of the same race. Because of her, I remember that I should stand up for what I believe in and not let my race or gender stand in the way.

  31. O. Lopez says:

    Joan Didion is one of my favorite writers of all time. The Year of Magical Thinking is one of my favorite reads.

    “Read, learn, work it up, go to the literature.
    Information is control.”

  32. S. Usrey says:

    I think that Women’s History Month is important. We learn about women that we normally would have never known about. Joan of Arc is a perfect example of that. One of the quotes that I like from her is “One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.”

  33. J gonzalez says:

    My woman

    The person who took me in

    who cared for me

    who taught me so much

    my person

    who made me laugh

    who made me feel alive

    She can be tuff on me but she changed my whole life around.

    The person who always said “no” to things she knew that were bad,

    the things people are getting in trouble for

    I thank god for such an amazing person in my life.

    My aunt (my mother)

  34. R.Garcia says:

    A woman that I admire deeply is Frida Kahlo. Her artwork was really ahead of its time. Frida Kahlo did not abide by the social norms of her day. For some her art was a little risqué, but I think it very brave of her to use her amazing art as a form of self-expression.

  35. J Smoot-Shaw says:

    i admire Sacagawea. Sacagawea was a Lemhi Shoshone Native American woman. She traveled with Lewis and Clark helping them as both a guide and an interpreter.

  36. G. Solis says:

    She wiped my tears and brushed my hair
    She watched me grow year by year
    Her words so consoling, her support unconditional
    Always blocking my fear
    My mother, oh so beautiful,
    Providing endless love
    Oh how I love this woman, an eternal love.

  37. E. Manzo says:

    Grace Hopper is a person I always remember. She worked on the 1st computer called Mark 1 and was the oldest admiral of her time. She also headed to a team and created the first compiler for coding, which led to the creation of COBOL (a programming language used today)

  38. Bsmith says:

    Emma Watson. Besides being a very successful great actor she has become quite the activist. She actually has been doing a lot of womens rights work.

  39. amercado says:

    Through your strength and encouragement. I know it was hard to do it alone. You never complained or made us feel less loved. You are the bravest and strongest woman I know. I was honored to have you in my life, and I am proud to say you were my mother.

  40. T. Sans says:

    I thought Harriet Tubman had left her mark in American history by being a very brave women who risked her life numerous times to try and get slaves across the northern border to get them to freedom. Helping to create the underground railroad has earned her place in American history forever.

  41. A. Aguilar says:

    She taught me how to love life
    She taught me love for God, and to have faith. Taught me moral values. My protector, who makes me feel safe. The one who gives me unconditional love. My best friend for ever and always my mother.

  42. J. Parra says:

    One my female heroes is Demi Lovato. She is such an inspiration, because she has been through so many struggles and has still come out so strong and positive. She uses her position to help encourage other people to love themselves and be positive and happy like she is. She’s used what she has gone through to teach others to be better.

  43. A. Guerrero says:

    I would recommend The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The character of this book was isolated by her own husband when she was found to have depression after giving birth. No matter how many times she told her family that she needed to be around people she no one listened since her husband was a respectable male doctor.

  44. K. H. says:

    I admire Julia Child. She is a famous French-cuisine Chef and an author of several books, such as My Life in France and Julia’s Casual Dinners. I remember first learning how to cook omelette by watching her show, The French Chef.

  45. VGomez says:

    I really get inspired by Rosa Parks story. She is an amazing role model to all the females around the world. She showed us that we can stand up for what we believe is not right. Rosa Parks changed history with her strong character.

  46. A. Walling says:

    My women hero is Harriet Tubman, no I am not black but she gave so many families and women a chance to have courage to stand up for themselves. She was seen as a criminal for what she did but she was a beautiful, strong, courageous woman who changed history for black women.

  47. SVasquez says:

    A woman who has inspired me to be the best daughter, sister and mother that I can be is mother. She has been the prime example of an individual who has overcome adversity, as an immigrant. I’m proud to say that she is now, a US citizen and owns her own business. She truly accomplished the American dream.

  48. S. Monteagudo says:

    The Help by Kathryn Stockett is one of my favorite books of all time. Many of the characters we come to know in the book are such strong women with so many admirable traits. Those women have stuck with me ever since the first time I read the book and I absolutely love them.

  49. T Ybarra says:

    I choose Lady Gaga, although she may seem weird and somewhat strange with her music and of course her outfits. She represents equality in many aspects. She gives people the confidence and chance for them to stand up for themselves and her music inspires people to be leaders. She is remarkable and definitely an icon for many young people out there in the world. All of her “little monsters” help spread the word and show how strong we really are and that all these other peoples opinions do not matter.

  50. R Ordona says:

    This woman I know has always been a mother even though I never acknowledged it. She worked so hard to provide for me and my younger brother. Taking me to soccer practice and sleeping while I played. She always worked hard, I knew that but what I didn’t know is that she was working for my future. For my very own family’s future.
    My mother

  51. S. Charlesworth says:

    I really admire Nicki Minaj, because she’s a big supporter for children staying in school and getting an education, as well as women being able to do whatever they want and not being judged for it (aka feminism).

  52. J Marquez says:

    Whether she is writing comedy, adventure, or poignant, powerful drama my favorite and first female poet I have ever heard is Lois Lowry. Her appeal is as broad as her subject matter and as deep as her desire to affect an eager generation of readers. She will most likely be recognized as the author of the new movie, old book, The Giver. Fantastic book and worth your time.

  53. N Mora says:

    My sister is some one I highly admire. She’s been through so many health issues and continues to work hard in school and sports. Nothing affect her motivation. She’s always determined to be better.

  54. cm says:

    This reminds of a story of a Swedish woman hitting a neo-Nazi protester with her handbag. The woman was reportedly a concentration camp survivor. [1985]

  55. K Lacsi says:

    The woman I know is MY MOTHER. She has always provided my bothers, and I a roof over our head, food on the table, and a bed to sleep in. Being a child not really know that we were living pay check to pay check. My mother still found the time to take us all out to enjoy what life has to offer.

  56. J marquez says:

    I consider my mom being my first and always hero because no matter what i can count on her. From school to even personal problems she knows when something is wrong.

  57. AGOMEZ says:

    My mother is and will always be my inspiration. We can fight all day, but at the end it’s her who motivates me to be someone in life. Without out her constant reminder of how hard life is for a field worker I would of probably already dropped out of college, but I want to continue not only for me but for her, so one day I can buy her house and she can live the rest of her life peacefully with no worries about money or food.

  58. AGonzales says:

    I women I admire the most is my mother. She is very strong, loving and wise. She is a huge influence in my life. She has guided me and believed in me through out my life. I turn to her when I need advise or a friend

  59. H. Avalos says:

    Oprah Winfrey is a hero.
    There was a powerful documentary I watched where Oprah took us on her journey in South Africa were there is a lot of unprivileged kids, most specifically, girls. In this documentary she was able to build a school with her money for girls and give them the opportunity to be somebody educational wise. The girls were so emotional to even have their own bed, something they did not have back at home.

  60. M Medrano says:

    My female hero has to be Rosa Parks. She had the will to stand up for what she believed. She didn’t give up her seat and fought like a warrior.

  61. S. Garza says:

    My hero is not only a Hollywood actress but underneath all of the glamour she is a woman of intelligence. Angelina Jolie is a public figure noted for her humanitarian efforts as well as promoting various causes including conservation, education, and woman’s rights where she urges people to step forward and be apart of a great cause.

  62. J. Perez says:

    First, I want to acknowledge and applause women all over the world regardless of their socioeconomic status. One of the most influential woman in this world has been by far Mother Teresa. Thus, Mother Teresa was a woman with a great heart, kindness, and willingness to listen. Consequently, Mother Teresa was dedicated to help the less fortunate.

  63. Ivan Camacho says:

    My main hero is my mother. She is what inspires me and pushes me to succeed in life. Aside from my mother, taking in consideration women figures who have made heroic acts, I would say Rosa Parks was definitely a heroic women. She stood her ground like many women do. She demonstrated everyone the importance of standing up for what we truly believe.

  64. R. Olson says:

    Maya Angelou was an inspirational author and spoke out about female empowerment and civil rights: “Still, like air, I rise.”

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