Poetry Hour Episode #6

For today’s video we reviewed the very confusing and sometimes grotesque poetry of Alice Notley and her work The Descent of Alette.


How I came across this book was rather interesting. When I was looking for poetry to get into my third episode I found a little Free Library that seemed to carry poetry. On Saturday, this last Saturday (April 18th, 2020), I stopped by there again to see if there was anymore that I happened to miss when I first visited. It just so happened that there seemed to be a book that I missed.

The book was written in a very strange format, it bore the qualities of having been written on speed or some kind of mind altering drug. And the work is written in an entirely bizarre fashion, you can find an example from my Instagram below.

The overall plot of the story takes place across four books. And the plot nearly mirrors a traditional heroic epic except the lack rhyme schemes and meter. And note here aout meter. Although the quotation marks are meant to mark the poetic feet as they march through their journey, this book doesn’t not have a standardized meter.

Book one seems to be about the subway world in which Alette finds herself in. Full of animals, spirits, blood, and horrors of all kinds, she is challenged by out owl (who she believes is her father) to descend deep inside of herself before she can kill the Tyrant. A word about the tyrant, he is everywhere and is everything (or so we are lead to believe)

Book two seems to explore the very bizarre caverns of the poets mind. And in case you were wondering what is going on in there, I dare not recreate some of the the art promulgated in the caves portion of the text. This was the portion of the book that I found myself scratching my head the most about.Llike being stuck in a turnstile, round and round and round, being flashed images of all different kinds with each page turn.

Book three, which I personally felt to be the most beautiful portion of the book and the most engaging, albeate the most creative, was for lack of a better way of describing it, the earth portion of the story. And it is here on eart that the poet and her hero meet the headless woman, reconnect with the owl father (I know see the pun all-father), and prepare for her journey after her transformation. Which is, as you suspect, to destroy the tyrant.

The last book, which would be the house of the tyrant, is a unique expression of the expanse of the tyrants grasp over the reality in which he inhabits. With that said, the big boss battle at the end was not super satisfying, but it was poetic enough… One could say it got to the root of the matter, and it cut loose the tyrant’s grasp on reality. You have got to read the book know get what I am talking I guess. Anywho, the book finishes off with a really lovely, a picturesque scene, with everyone coming back to the way things were before this nightmare began

Altogether I did not like the way this book was written. What I did like was that I encountered some images that made me think. And I observe that this is not my kind of book, viewed purely out of a sense of taste for poetry. However, there what with there not being any other books that I could obtain at the time, this book served me nicely for poetry hour.

I would highly recommend an attempt at this book as it is unique and currently studied in schools as a key feature of the feminist movement (side note here, this book has aged pretty well; however, if viewed through a purely feminist perspective, this book would be found intolerant among many feminists today).

We have a very exciting lineup of books for the next two weeks, almost three weeks. Ranging from all different kinds of poets with very different backgrounds. So I am without lack when it comes to poetry at the present time, and I am very excited for our poetry hour tomorrow.

Hope to see you there.

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