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British Association for American Studies


Issue 17, Autumn 2010: Article 3


Issue 17, Autumn 2010: Article 3

U.S. Studies Online: The BAAS Postgraduate Journal

‘How Did It All Fit In’: Alice Notley’s ‘101’

Yasmine Shamma

© Yasmine Shamma. All Rights Reserved.

In poems that remember or describe domestic space, to what extent does the stanza take on the etymology its name recalls? This is a particularly relevant question to ask when reading Alice Notley’s Mysteries of Small Houses and, more specifically, her poem ‘101’ which retraces the apartment she and Ted Berrigan lived in throughout their time in New York City and as members of the unofficial Second Generation New York School. Since the period in the 1970s and 1980s when Notley and Berrigan lived in, wrote from, threw parties at, and had started a family from 101 St. Mark’s Place, Notley has moved to Paris and to other forms of writing (most recently, she is working on epics). But this collection of poetry survives and serves not only as an artifact of remembered places, but as an underappreciated work of art, and though it was a finalist for the 1999 Pulitzer Prize, few critics have written about the collection.[1] Though Notley explains in interviews and essays that she wrote this book as a response to discussions of ‘the self’ that were occurring in the nineties, the poems in the book go beyond that discussion and deal with the way that ‘the body-self’ is ‘such a shadowy fragile house’ unadorned and open, like her poetry.[2] Throughout the book, domestic space is linked not only to the self remembering or inhabiting space, but to the poem which takes on the look of its surroundings. I am interested in the way that this poem is part of a larger 20th century trend of poems—in the process of dealing with place—imitating housed city life.

Of particular interest is the Second Generation New York School which picks up on a poetic tradition set in motion by Frank O’Hara, Kenneth Koch and others, and follows through with its commitment not only to an alternate line, but to visual attention. As the school named after a painting movement and based in New York City, an urban landscape ripe with visual stimulation, it becomes interesting to think of how this attention to viewpoint factors into the poems which so often address physical constructs: the musing activities of New York School poems very often occur in apartments. What does it mean that these room-ed moments are recollected in stanzas?

The Modern stanza—grappling with questions of place, seems to become a kind of linguistic room or inner space in which poets can register their concerns and impressions of city life. Many studies have addressed the role of landscape in poetry, and the city in poetry, but one of the smallest units has been eclipsed by 20th century literary criticism. Rooms are described throughout contemporary and modern American poetry within stanzas, so that the room might be being imitated or reflected in the shape of the stanza. In returning to the etymological roots of the word, recent City poets not only engage an age-old conceit of western poetry but also reinvent that conceit to accommodate the conditions of late 20th century urban life.  And as the stanza has been such a place to respond, it gets, by the late 1980s in New York City, increasingly crowded, breathless and intense. Accordingly, the page becomes a place riddled with the tensions of city life, as poets who have lived in cities, or in the idea of them, manipulate syntax, style and form—poetically rendering urban density.

For example, in the poetry of the New York School poems seem pieced-together, little punctuation, the sense that characters are proliferating and time is unmarked and rapidly slipping, along with the sheer exhausting, undeniable length of poems, hinting at an inescapable density. Yet the same is true of New York, just in a more physical or actual sense. So when Kenneth Koch writes ‘The Boiling Water’ and Allen Ginsberg writes ‘Howl’ or ‘America’, Frank O’Hara, ‘Meditations in an Emergency’ or Alice Notley, ‘Place myself in New York (Need One More Time There)’ all in chunks of rarely broken up stanzas and seemingly haphazard form, I would argue that they are answering to their external, or urban, situations.[3] Likewise, in a much earlier era, when T.S. Eliot writes four neatly revised near sonnet stanzas (as in ‘Preludes’), and Wallace Stevens, eight (as in ‘Sunday Morning’) and separate or space the activities within them with roman numerals and white stanza breaks on the page, I would argue that they are answering to the architecture of their lives.

So the page becomes a place to situate the perceived conditions—instead of the actual dimensions—of roomed life. In Michail Bakhtin’s term, such poetry is ‘answerable’ to the environment from which it speaks. Bakhtin writes of this phenomenon in ‘Art and Answerability,’in which he first disapproves of art that is

… Too self-confident, audaciously self-confident, and too high-flown, for it is in no way bound to answer for life. And, of course, life has no hope of ever catching up with art of this kind. ‘That’s too exalted for us’—says life. ‘That’s art, after all! All we’ve got is the humble prose of living’.[4]

The ‘humble prose of living’is taken up by Eliot when he writes ‘Think: I made this’ (‘Marina’); by Stevens when he writes ‘She dreams a little’ (‘Sunday Morning’); Bishop when she writes, ‘She shivers and says she thinks the house / feels chilly’ (‘Sestina’); and, later, New York poets, as O’Hara writes, ‘Oh! Kangaroos, sequins, chocolate sodas! / You really are beautiful! Pearls, / harmonicas, jujubes, aspirins!’ (‘Hymn to Life’); Koch remembers, ‘the men with their eyes on the myth / And the missus and the midterms’ (‘Doctor Fun’); Notley reflects ‘I have a headache in a burning house for years / Hardly know that it’s burning’ (‘Flowers’) and Berrigan in his ‘Last Poem’writes: ‘I … gave / Blood, regained my poise, & verbalized myself a place / In Society. 101 St. Mark’s Place, apt. 12A, NYC 10009’.[5]  Note that this ‘humble prose of living’ tends to allude to the place of living. And in this way, these poetries are comprehensively ‘answerable’.   What Bakhtin abstractly seeks as a ‘unity of answerability’ becomes actualised in the unity of these poems.[6]

With all of these poets seeming to be conscious of the pity of unanswered inspiration, their poetry reacts to urban life. The poems account for the experience of roomed life, rendering forms inwardly, often to critical effect.  The ‘serious house on serious earth’ (Larkin) becomes the poem, or becomes imitated or held in the poem, itself serious and housing.[7]

Philosophers, environmental psychologists and urban theorists have considered the implications of such a Russian doll effect of experience in houses. Place philosopher Edward Casey reflects on Heidegger’s, Merleau-Ponty’s and Bachelard’s conceptions of space, eventually arguing that the parameters of experience had in a house are more informative than the actual physical parameters of the house.[8] This will prove crucial when considering poets writing from small spaces—such as New York City studios, as the qualities of their lives become the dimensions of their lives. Casey claims that the home, however small, becomes a ‘place-world, a world of places’.   As Casey continues through this line of thought, he arrives at a point relevant to this study of Notley’s rooms in 101 St. Mark’s Place: ‘What matters (in a house) is the degree of intimacy and intensity of our experience there; when these are acutely felt, the very distinction between universe and world…becomes otiose. … The exploration is not architectural, much less geometrical; it is a matter of rooms as dreamed, imagined, remembered—and read.[9] With this claim in mind, reading Notley’s ‘101’ conjures imagining, remembering and dreaming. But while Casey reflects on the ‘exploration’ being neither architectural or geometrical, the formulation of the exploration within poetry (I believe Notley’s poem is one of many from the first and generation New York School poets that enact this) is forced into something between architecture, geometry and dreaming.  

Notley’s poems from her Mysteries of Small Houses muse on the thin lines between imagining and re-placing oneself within an architected time and place.[10]  Specifically, ‘101’ the poem in tribute to the apartment in which Notley and Berrigan began a family, just a few doors down from the Poetry Project, provides a floorplan worthy of formal consideration. While it is tempting to read this poem as a contemporary ‘Room of One’s Own’, Notley asks her audience not to gender her poetry, as she responds to Adrienne Rich’s feminist criticism: ‘I don’t like the way she uses the pronoun “We”. I think she emotionally blackmails you with it. And I never feel like I’m part of her “We”’.[11] But reading Notley as a woman writing about the place of women has recently become more possible, and more difficult to resist. Her two following books ‘look down’, to borrow a phrase from ‘101’, into the heroine in epics.[12] But before she began exploring the relationship of women to epics, Notley wrote Mysteries, a book involved in a wholly different pursuit. Throughout the collection she recalls her time not only in New York City, but in apartments and small living spaces throughout the world. Because the book dwells on themes of inhabiting (‘I like how small the apartment it pulls us closer’ (‘Place Myself in New York…’) and treats the fact of being a woman as a mere fact (‘Not a diva experimentalist genius or ferocious outlaw—/just a poet… / just pick up words not toys / just a poet’), this book deserves attention as a book about those small places, and that human perceiving them.

The book is unique in its context of 90s poetry at a time when the Iowan Creative Writing Program (where Notley met Berrigan) was churning out many a female ‘Experimentalist’ like Jorie Graham who drew on myth in her poetry and won the prize Notley was nominated for, and Notley’s poems stand out as resisting tendencies of abstraction.[13] Writing persona-less from the place of her life, memories, visions and daily errands, her poems seem aware of the risks of ‘getting too far away from earth’, that Rich herself writes about: ‘Even in the struggle against free-floating abstraction, we have abstracted’.[14]

Because Mysteries… stands in this small way against ‘the struggle’, and Notley’s own essays on women dismiss the positioning of her poetry within a women’s canon, I would like to look at this collection, and more specifically this poem, as one concerned with concrete place, written by ‘just a poet’.

‘101’, in the way of New York poetry, begins:

It’s possible that I still live there
Apartment that is path-narrow
I don’t want to be there in this poem if
Anyone else is, from the past, I want it to be empty
A lot of dust I let fall
It gets smaller        See mobiles from when, a flasher
Whose penis had broken off         That other mobile I
Made it’s talismanic objects
A bottlecap a rose a centaur a cactus a coin
tiny rooms 

Throughout interviews, essays, poems and her life, Notley affirms, almost unwaveringly, that she is ‘interested in the true’.   Here and throughout the poem, details are recalled, corrected and recollected, with the act of writing and documenting ‘the true’ playing in an interesting way with remembering. As the tour of ‘101’ begins, the wants which the poem indulges in become muddled with the stasis of the vision—for though the speaker ‘wants it to be empty’, it doesn’t appear to be. The question of control, then, becomes immediate. ‘I don’t want to be there, in this poem, if / anyone else is, from the past’, but the mention of ‘anyone else’ summons the ghosts (both of Notley’s husbands, Berrigan and Douglas Oliver, died) so that they, and the speaker’s resistance to them, come to occupy the poem.

Already in the poem’s first stanza, everything happens in twos:

It’s possible that I still live there

Apartment that is path-narrow

I don’t want to be there in this poem if

Anyone else is, from the past, I want it to be empty

A lot of dust I let fall

It gets smaller …

The ‘there’ of the poem becomes the ‘there’ of the apartment (‘I don’t want to be there in this poem’); What the poem / apartment is comes up against what she wants the poem / apartment to be (‘I want it to be empty’); empty spaces become deliberate in the ‘lot of dust I let fall’. The seen mobile hangs in contrast to the made mobile, and two gaps are offered, allowing the closing of space to relate to the fracturing of memory. More precisely, Notley’s ‘talismanic’ objects are at once souvenirs of the remembered place and, implicitly, the result of remembering as the poem becomes a talisman.

As ‘101’ continues, it moves from its first stanza to its second, and also interestingly to its second room, or liminal space—the hallway:

Several handmade afghans always and many filthy blankets

Shawls on whatever chair a Mexican shawl a cotton cloth from Africa

What about all of the plants they would get very scrubby

Cunty conches rock collections art everywhere collages and fans

But the apartment’s a hallway and odah orange and purple curtains at one window

Held up by a rope and hanging clothes tacked up dividing successive tiny rooms

As cloth spreads to cover, so do these lines. And the coverages are all creations: ‘handmade’, ‘filthy’, ‘collections’, ‘collages’ and ‘successive’, which are, in turn, covered by human touches: ‘held up… tacked up’.   They also blanket in their multitude, being: ‘several’, ‘always’, many’, ‘whatever’, ‘all’, very’ and ‘everywhere’, burying the stanza and room’s only life (plants) in clutter.  One gets the sense of being touched too much, for all these coverings are also ‘talismanic objects: afghans, blankets, shawls,  etc, increasing the sense of multiple handlings. These blankets don’t warm, comfort or shield people, though—they cover things, fill and mark space: a chair is mentioned, not a person in a chair; curtains are ‘at one window’ and not ‘on’ or ‘over’ the window, clothes ‘divid(e)… rooms’ instead of covering people or ‘being doors’.   So there comes a sense of overwhelming and insistent hollowness despite the clutter, for though there are clothes for them, there are also no people in this stanza and, apart from the poet-speaker, no living people are ‘enumerated’ in the entire poem.

Out of these layers, we are led into the spatially concerned third stanza: ‘Come into the kitchen from outside look down through slanty-floored narrow nearly-rooms’.   Navigating, the verse starts with two verbs: ‘Come’ and ‘Look’ which are the poem’s first real present tense verbs, and also imperative. The imperative to ‘look’ is guided downwards: ‘into’ here, and ‘in’, repeated seven times throughout this stanza, emphasising that the space being probed is internal, that time and place are, for the poem’s moment, fixed spatially below, pinned down or even ‘slowed’. This first invitation to do something is also the first time that the reader is called in, so that the reader’s role is to participate in envisioning. The reader is invited to join the poet in musing on the artifacts of the past:

The mobiles dangle on the way to the real front room where radiant south light is

And there’s some light in the kitchen in spring and summer

As well as in the corridorish bedrooms

In the kitchen’s a small bathtub underneath it’s dark cockroach hell

In the toilet room off the kitchen are the Christmas tree decorations

On top of the kitchen cabinet are dead radios never sent to Nicaragua

In the 80s and in the 70s are minor plants on the sill three or four

They look like a few arms reaching malformed something always

Hangs beside the window

A plastic medallion someone once found or a shoehorn

No            the shoehorn was in a bedroom

At this point in the poem, we are one third through the memory and the floorplan, and stand at the cusp of the ‘narrow nearly-rooms’. Both artist and audience are led to gaze at a memory, clearly lost, as time goes backwards and the speaker stops to try to put a finger on things: ‘something always hangs….’ ‘No     the shoehorn was in a bedroom’. As if to look up for the lost shoehorn, and change the sense of stillness, the fourth stanza rushes: ‘You had to walk past people in bed to get anywhere’.  It helps to consider the 1980s and Roger Gilbert writes on the difference between 80s and 90s poetry:

… the dominant poetic style of the eighties featured a dense sediment of sheer information, most of it contemporary in reference… Typical eighties poems were cluttered with names, ephemera, fragmentary factoids that carried little historic resonance or allusive depth … the nineties saw a shift from anecdote to archetype—from the random, the particular, the contingent and contemporary to the ideal… In spatial terms, the movement was decidedly upward… If the typical eighties poem was written with the TV on, figuratively if not literally, the typical nineties poem was written with the TV off, a Gregorian chant playing softly in the background.[15]

Looking to Notley’s fourth stanza recollection of ‘Fenellosa on art Fat City the Quiller Memorandum’, Shibumi the Time / Life Wildlife Series Levis-Strauss and Bruhl / All of Stevenson herbals the Mahbarata the First Folio the new / Tale of Genji the new Proust in the 70’s when those were new’, one notes that yes, this is 80s poetry: ‘a dense sediment of sheer information, most of it contemporary in reference’ cluttered by mostly, plenty.

Alongside the ‘dense sediment’ of objects the hint of a crowd enters into the fifth stanza. Though, from its start, the poem stands in an ambiguous tense (‘It’s possible that I still live there’), for the most part it sticks to the past until this fifth stanza anticlimax, when the tense most explicitly shifts:

There isn’t any room in this treehouse three flights up people

keep coming in

They ring the buzzer in various codes which we often ignore

You can tell by the pressure applied to the button who it is anyway

They keep coming in I won’t enumerate but they’re all there at all

of the ages and stages we

Were it’s too crowded isn’t it or not you love it whoever but I’m pushed far


At this moment finding space down the well of myself

Though I am this land this apartment in hieroglyphs inscribed round

the well as I drift down

The various people with ‘various codes’ apply pressure to the doorbell and to the poet’s ability to remember the apartment and create ‘this poem’ without ‘anyone else … from the past’ (recall the first stanza). The recollection of many makes the memory of two–line broken–’we / were’ feel at once tucked away and fragile. Here is the middle point of the entire poem, and, appropriately, it is in this time and place of the memory that the poet gets ‘pushed far inside’. In their study of ‘how apartment dwellers view their surroundings,’ Annie Moch, Florence Bordas and Daniele Hermand note that ‘actual physical density’ is not as important as ‘perceived density’.[16] In this way, the fact that the apartment was physically small, translates, perceptively and poetically, to a stanza that is dense in tense, emotion, and frenzy. The study of density cites two situations in one neighborhood—both apartments were technically the same size, but in one, people had to walk through a corridor to get to their space, and: ‘Even though the average amount of space per person was the same… the ‘corridor’ students experienced a stronger feeling of living in overpopulated housing, complained of unwanted encounters, tried to avoid and often cut themselves off from others…. They need to be alone is created and so is the feeling of discomfort’.[17] The stanza which led to this moment of needing to ‘drift down’ was preceded by a recollection of the apartment’s railroad layout: ‘You had to walk past people in bed to get anywhere’. The fact that the poet-speaker remembers and retraces this feeling so acutely, from outside of the moment and place of its origin, speaks to its intensity.

Through ‘it all’, we arrive at the fifth stanza confession. Amid the unnamed crowds, the shoehorn is still sought, and as the stanza and speaker unravel, the shoehorn becomes an anchor:

This apartment wasn’t me really it was everyone else it was the

outer world

How did it all fit in it was all-nighters parties near-fistfights


Endless conversation and controversy dinner parties on a bed

An eternal heart-to-heart ‘It smells like McSorley’s in here’

A death occurs and a couple more offstage the room’s full of mourners

I sit up half the night

Staring near the shoehorn hanging from a nail staring at nothing

Some wood in a bookshelf that never got varnished

Trying to understand how a person vanishes will I ever vanish

Making ‘varnish’ slip to ‘vanish’ seems the play that is precisely Notley’s point. That the sound of a word can slip–and the meaning, and the image, because there are so many other things there–into fear, or wish, quite plainly, of mortality: ‘Will I ever vanish’.   And, as Bachelard suggests, ‘the outside becomes a prison’, the city subject confirms that it ‘wasn’t me it was everyone else it was the outerworld’ marking her own confines.[18] The preceding stanza’s note, ‘There isn’t any room in this treehouse’ marks the poem’s spatial crux, and ‘I sit up half the night’, highlighted by a line break, marks the emotional crux.

Maybe it should be mentioned that Notley has lost many loved ones, all male. Mysteries of Small Houses calls on the death of her father, her brother, and two husbands. But when asked why she left New York, Notley explains first that it was ‘Doug’s idea’ and then in a mere sentence: ‘Too much had happened for me there; I couldn’t be there anymore’.[19] In ‘101’, though, she offers more of an explanation in the poem’s final stanza, beginning even, with the causality of ‘So’:

So I walk up the block trapped in time not even so much in those


But the time of walking up the block and around it to the store

Over the years I had too often walked on that block to the store and back

What do you do in life go to the store and the next day and the next and

Trapped in the time of walking to the store

And back one day I popped free from time

I popped out of sequence out of walking that stretch for a second

everything felt light I wasn’t there

That wasn’t the first time something like this had happened

It had happened a few years earlier on Third Avenue

I didn’t exactly leave time that time time slowed

And people slowed and walked in slow motion and had naked faces

They all looked vulnerable benign not hard but this time in


I realized I wasn’t even there at all I was unlocated untimed

About a year and a half later and there is no connection particularly

I left New York

The ‘So’ that begins the stanza meets the seeming contradictory ‘there is no connection particularly’ that ends it. However, there being ‘no connection particularly’ is the cause of Notley’s departure from New York, and the speaker exiting this poem of too much. The too-much-ness of the previous lines is complemented by their unpunctuated seeming haphazardness. In this stanza, an actual activity is recalled as repetitive and somehow entrancing, too, however mundane: the walk to the supermarket. And in being remembered as something that happens with some timed frequency to it: ‘trapped in the time of walking to the store’, it receives the only detectable rhythm in the poem, as daily habits do in life. For this short moment, a faint iambic pentameter is set in motion by anapests, and followed by the traditionally elegiac dactylic pentameter. And it all halts or explodes, too appropriately, when the moment comes to be ‘popped out of time’ replaced by lines that make the reader out of breath.

‘101’ implies that this staggering popping happens to Notley’s speaker, precisely because in a place of so much, ‘there is no connection’ and more specifically, ‘Particularly’.   As she notes innumerable things happening, rooms filling, and people coming in and vanishing almost despite or regardless of her, the particular comes to feel eerily effaced. It is by virtue of these happenings happening to her and in her house, that the ‘self’, house and poem become inseparably shaped and, overwhelmed by particulars, subject to ‘popping out’. Leaving New York, then, becomes, as a reverse kidnapping, crucial.

But this is not an escape. Ginsberg sensitively explains after ‘Howl’: ‘Mind is shapely. Art is shapely’, and Berrigan, Notley’s first personal teacher, echoed: ‘I want to make the poems have shape, be shapely‘.[20] Mysteries of Small Houses, though, is centrally concerned with the places within places—the city ‘embodied’ in the room, the room ‘embodied’ in the stanza. As the alleyway becomes the recess of the cityscape, and the room the recess of the street, the poem or painting or even flower arrangement becomes a recess of the room. And the want to get it all right becomes, in this reverse arranging way, a want to get out. Sensing the threat of muddle and estrangement caused by the city’s Too Muchness/excess, Notley’s speaker subtly explains, in the calm shaped by the coupling of the poem’s last lines, safely popped out in the carved white space of a stanza break, that departing is a resistance to abstraction.

In an essay finally comparing their poetry, Eric Selinger assumed that Berrigan wrote the following line about Notley: ‘Technically, she is impeccable, & / If She is clumsy in places, those are clumsy places’.[21] The line is actually inspired by Anne Waldman, but the mistake is understandable—the line is loving, and Berrigan loved Notley and Waldman in potentially equal, though different, capacities. Furthermore, throughout Notley’s poetry, her stanzas seem to emulate the looks of the places they are written from. In ‘101’ Notley’s spatial memory is impeccable, tripping often, it seems, to suggest that New York’s East Village is a clumsy place. While, as Aristotle bluntly predicted: ‘The power of place will be remarkable’, philosophers have reconsidered the ‘power of place’ with Philip Sheldrake noting: ‘The most fundamental fact of human existence is that because people are ‘embodied’ they are also ‘somewhere’, and Bachelard, hinting at the boiling therein: ‘Entrapped in being, we shall always have to come out of it’.[22] But what happens when the place you come out into is the messy city or the overcrowded apartment? And when this place is recalled in a poem, do stanzas take on the literal contours their etymologies recall? In considering how a city may overwhelm, Notley’s interview confession illuminates: ‘I got interested in the fact that there was this control on the page’.[23]

‘I’m not being clear,’ writes Notley in her ‘Flowers’. ‘We had inappropriate emotions / The American poetry vacant lot’s small and overgrown.’  She so directly alludes not only to city life, but to the syntax of a poetry movement. A trope of emergence becomes traceable with Koch’s ‘boiling water’, O’Hara’s ‘re-emerging’, Ginsberg’s ‘howling’ and, in Notley’s ‘101’ ‘Popping free from time’ all suggesting an underlying, unnaturally supernatural push radiating from the urban sidewalk.[24] In ‘101’ Notley implicitly asks: What happens when a person is pushed out?  When a city subject becomes irrelevant?—or when a house, too crowded, ejects one of its inhabitants? In ‘101’ Notley confesses ‘it wasn’t me’, and so answers, eventually leaving the poem and New York City, formally resisting clutter through poetic exit.

University of Oxford 


[1] Peter Middleton wrote an article on “101” for the website Intercapillary Space, which provides a good general introduction to the poem. Libbie Rifkin concludes her Career Moves with a look at “Flowers” from the book, and Brian Kim Stefan’s review of Disobedience in the Boston Review addresses Mysteries… in its introduction (Vol. 27, No. 6, December 2002/January 2003).

, I was firstly trying to realize the first person singular as fully and nakedly as possible… Saying I in that way I tried to trace I’s path through my past. I’ve never understood that word [“self”] very well and how people use it now in any of the camps that use it pro or con – I guess I partly wrote Mysteries in order to understand it better. I came to the conclusion, in the final poem of the book, that self means ‘I’ and also means ‘poverty’, it’s what one strips down to, who you are when you’ve stripped down.” Alice Notley, ‘The Poetics of Disobedience’, <>.

[3] Kenneth Koch, Collected Poems (New York: Knopf, 2005), p. 330

[4] Mikhail Bakhtin, ‘Art and Answerability’, in Art and Answerability: Early Philosophical Essays, ed. by Michael Holquist and Vadim Liapunov. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1990) pp. 2-6 (p. 2).

[5] Kenneth Koch, Collected Poems (New York: Knopf, 2005), p. 330; Frank O’Hara, The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara ed. by Donald Allen (California: University of California Press, 1995) p. 197; Alice Notley, Mysteries of Small Houses (New York: Penguin, 1998) p. 56. All further references to Notley’s poems are from this edition. T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land and Other Poems (New York: Penguin Books, 1998) pp. 10-14; Wallace Stevens, “Sunday Morning’ in Norton Anthology of Poetry. 5th ed. by Margaret Ferguson, Mary Jo Salter and Jon Stallworthy (USA: Norton and Company, 2005) p. 1257.

[6] Bakhtin, ‘Art and Answerability’, p. 2.

[7] This phrase comes from Philip Larkin’s poem ‘Church Going’.

[8] Edward Casey, The Fate of Place: A Philosophical History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997) p. 336.

[9] Ibid. p. 290.

<> (accessed October 8, 2010).

<> (accessed October 8, 2010).

[12] Susan McCabe writes about this to some extent in “The Performance of Crisis in Alice Notley’ in Jacket 25

[13] Willard Spiegelman’s The Nineties Revisited provides a useful overview of trends in Nineties poetry. Contemporary Literature XLII, 2, (University of Wisconsin, 2001).

[14] See endnote 2. Adrienne Rich, “The Politics of Dis-location”, Women, Feminist Identity, and Society in the 1980s. ed. By Myriam Diaz-Diocaretz and Iris M. Zavela, (USA: John Benjamin’s Publishing, 1985) pp. 7-25.

[15] Roger Gilbert, ‘Awash with Angels: The Religious Turn in Nineties Poetry’, Contemporary Literature, Vo. 42, No. 2, Summer 2001, p. 238-269.

[16] ‘Perceived density: how apartment dwellers view their surroundings’, Le Courrier du CNRS, #82, 1996, pp. 131-2.

[17] Ibid. p. 131.

[18] Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space (Boston: Beacon Press, 1958) p. 216.

[19] Alice Notley interview with Leonard Schwartz, Cross Cultural Poetics, Episode 28: EuroNorth America (Evergreen University, 2005).

[20] Nice to See You, ed. Anne Waldman (Coffee House Press, 1991) p. 113.

[21] Eric Selinger, ‘That Awkward Grace’, Parnassus: Poetry in Review Vol. 21.2 (1996). pp. 298-324 (p. 299).

[22] Philip Sheldrake, Spaces for the Sacred: Place, Memory, and Identity (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001) p. 9; Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, p. 213.

[23] Leonard Schwartz, Cross Cultural Poetics

[24] For more on ‘Emergence Theory’ see Stephen Johnson’s Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software (New York: Touchstone, 2001).