In May of this year I participated in Aller Retour Paris: a week of art, poetry, film, and music in the heart of Paris, celebrating the city’s role in shaping Henry Miller as a writer and raconteur. Ping-Pong literary journal hosted the opening night party at Shakespeare and Company. Reading poetry while looking at Notre Dame Cathedral is kind of wondrous. I hope I never get to that place where I think that isn’t the coolest thing on earth, cuz it kinda is. I figured since I was in Paris I’d see about interviewing one of my favorite poets, Alice Notley, who kindly agreed. J. Hope Stein, my friend and newest poetry editor at Ping-Pong also came along, and together we had tea and conversation with a woman who makes life itself an art, like Henry says is the trick of the whole thing. What follows is a shortened version (you have to buy the print copy of Ping-Pong to read it in its entirety). I have placed the first half here, and J. Hope Stein will put the second half up on her site tomorrow.
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
the (partial) interview with Alice Notley
by: Maria Garcia Teutsch and J. Hope Stein
May 2014 at a café in Paris, France
I find a playfulness with language and punctuation in your writing with the things that bind our language and in some ways release them. And I’m wondering if in English you find there are more boundaries on the language than you do in the French?
No (laughs). No, because English is my first language and for me it has no boundaries. But I don’t think one has more or fewer boundaries than the other.
In French everything is gender, and I know in German everything is gendered.
In English a lot is gender and nobody notices it. And if you speak a language you don’t notice it. I don’t notice it so much in French. Mostly I strive to master it so I can speak the language. The words you expect to be feminine are never feminine. It never works the way it’s supposed to. It all comes from Latin. I took Latin in high school and I know that gender is always unexpected. (Laughs) Read More >