Monday, June 27, 2011

Aimless Reading: The N's, Part 10.3 (Alice Notley)

Notley, Alice
From A Work in Progress


Not sure where I got this one. It's from a series that used to happen at the Dia Center in New York in the eighties. I saw a few readings there in the early nineties, before they moved from Soho to Chelsea. They had stopped printing chapbooks for each event by the time I showed up. They'd switched to printing elegant little broadsides modeled on French paperback covers. I still have a couple of them somewhere. I also have an event book of James Schuyler's from this same series.

Alice has read for Just Buffalo a couple of time's since I've been here. One time I remember taking her for lunch over to the Creeleys'. It was me and Alice and Bob and Pen Creeley and I think Myung Mi Kim was there also. We sat around a table by the window eating and Alice, who lives in Paris, said something about the French phrase, "c'est bizarre." I don't remember the context exactly, but Penelope picked up on the cognate 'bizarre' and started needling Bob about his poems.

She said, "Bob, some of your poems are 'bee-zah,' like that one about breaking open someone's skull and sticking a candle in behind the eyes. Now that is BEE-zah." I remember everyone kind of waited for Bob to laugh, which he did, and then everyone laughed with him and we went on eating and talking.

The next time she came to town she came with her sons, Anselm and Edmund. She and Anselm read at UB and Edmund read with Dan Machlin at Steel Bar. We all met up with Creeley at Cybele's on Allen St. for brunch on Sunday morning. It was me and Anselm and Karen Weiser and Edmund and Alice and Dan Machlin and Serena Jost.

Alice's husband, Douglas Oliver, had just passed away and I remember when Bob walked in the door he smiled and opened up his arms and Alice seemed to collapse into his chest and she let out a sigh they gave gave each other a long, tear-filled hug. The mutual sympathy was palpable, like witnessing old friends reuniting after being separated by a war.

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