Close to me & Closer… (The Language of Heaven) and Desamere

Alice Notley

1995 • 144 pp. • $14.00
ISBN: 9781882022267

Purchase from Small Press Distribution

Alice Notley’s two books, Close to me & Closer… and Desamere, are works that are wholly their art, meaning they occur as their language shape measure. She’s invented a measure. The text is a rich current crossing, as at the moment of imagining, into being in death and in an expanded life. Notley transgresses conventional contemporary categories of genre; rather than genre, the form of the writing is the mind’s inner sense and motion.

“Alice Notley is, I think, the most challenging and engaging of our contemporary radical female poets…infused with uncommon verbal originality, intelligence and joyous playfullness, full of heart, intensity and wonder, provocatively addressing forever unsolved questions of form and identity, life and death, imagination and gender, Notley’s poems are unsettling and inspiring.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

Notley’s enjambments give a wink to straitlaced syntax, and thus convey the rush and ragged edges of actual talk, the “sheets of thoughts” the mind billows through. Drawn in by her conversational, if not confessional pitch– “May I never be afraid; especially of myself” –we are hardly prepared for the wrench she throws.”
—The Village Voice

Alice Notley (born 8 November 1945) is an American poet. She was born in Bisbee, Arizona and grew up in Needles, California. She received a B.A from Barnard College in 1967 and an M.F.A. from the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1969. She married poet Ted Berrigan in 1972, with whom she was active in the Chicago poetry scene and with whom she had two sons. In the early 70s she became rooted in New York’s Lower East Side, where she was an important force from 1976 through 1992. After Berrigan died in 1983, Notley raised their two sons in New York’s East Village by herself for several years while continuing to develop her poetry. In 1992 she moved to Paris with her second husband, the British poet Douglas Oliver (1937-2000). She lives in Paris currently, making several trips to the United States each year to give readings and teach writing classes. 


We don’t ever
know how or who
Those are
ideas of
the living…They’re just
ideas… Change your
way of talking
Dream a little:
there is a motor
that doesn’t stop or start
It’s empty
to look at It’s an
Why not?
It’s what…
there only is
…my motor.
It’s real.
This poem is a…dream
I’m dreaming of…being
a live man…
Riding…in the car…
through a town I
won’t name yet…You
go down…into a
valley…Trees there not
high ones…a stream I
guess…In this dream the…
vegetation…is soft
& thick – softer & thicker
than it was…there is…
line of light…somewhere…
Because there is…a lot
of darkness…down there…
This…is a poem…because
the landscape…is both…
the same & different than…
it was…And now I’ll name
the town: Valentine,
Arizona…This poem means…
The dead still…love
the world…But they get…
to have…it different.