Sat 03 February 2024

For this episode of rile*, books podcast we are thrilled to release the recording of Alice Notley's reading at rile*, which took place on September 13 2023. Alice Notley read from her recent publication The Speak Angel Series, a six book epic, published by Fonograf Editions in 2023. Marija Cetinić joined in conversation with Alice Notley, opening questions around the genre of the epic, feminism and disobiedence; followed by a closing q&a with the audience.

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About the book
The Speak Angel Series is composed of six full-length books in various forms but towards the achievement of a unifying epic narrative in which the poet, as character, leads all the souls of all the living and dead to a point zero where the remaking of the cosmos can be performed. As this is being done, the official public world takes place in Paris, France and the United States, and new “characters” are incorporated from the news and from the poet’s life. The forms include a long-line narrative broken by lyric stand-alones, an operatic form designed to make the reader chant if reading aloud, two spiritual sequels to the author’s book The Descent of Alette, written in the same stanzaic form, a book that is simply a collection of different kinds of poems, a book formed by literary collaging, and a final, long book that is the volume’s ultimate culmination. The Speak Angel Series took years to accomplish but is finally ready; it is meant to be read for plot, pleasure, musical experience, wisdom and truth. Why not? The books present something like a cosmology in the philosophical sense, a reading of existence and of death. The dead are very close-by and available in the series, which is a work of stunning ambition.

About Alice Notley
Alice Notley was born in Bisbee, Arizona in 1945 and grew up in Needles, California in the Mojave Desert. She was educated in the Needles public schools, Barnard College, and The Writer’s Workshop, University of Iowa. She has lived most extensively in Needles, in New York, and since 1992 in Paris, France. She is the author of numerous books of poetry, and of essays and talks on poetry, and has edited and co-edited books by Ted Berrigan and Douglas Oliver.  She edited the magazine CHICAGO in the 70s and co-edited with Oliver the magazines SCARLET and Gare du Nord in the 90s. She is the recipient of the Los Angeles TimesBook Award, the Griffin Prize, the Academy of American Poets’ Lenore Marshall Prize, and the  Poetry Foundation’s Ruth Lilly Prize, a lifetime achievement award.  Notley may be most widely known for her epic poem The Descent of Alette. Recent books include Eurynome’s Sandals, Certain Magical Acts,Benediction, and For the Ride. Notley is also a collagist, cover artist, and maker of hybrid art objects. An art book, Runes and Chords, is forthcoming or has already appeared.

About Marija Cetinić
Marija Cetinić is Assistant Professor of Literary and Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam and a researcher at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis. She is coordinator of the MA Comparative Literature program and founding member of the research group Sex Negativity. At Sandberg Instituut, she works as thesis supervisor and writing instructor in the MA Critical Studies program. Since 2022, she is part of the programming collective at Perdu, center for poetry and experiment. With Stefa Govaart, she is involved in an ongoing epistolary project.

Further Reading and Links
You can find Alice Notley's books on our website.

Edited and mixed by Ros Del Olmo
Intro and outro by Chloe Chignell
Recording by rile* team
Music sample from "Borders" by Carmen Villain and Jenny Hval

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