Saturday, August 8, 2009

Descent of Alette by Alice Notley: a review by Elizabeth Kate Switaj [50 BPT]

This is a takeoff on the actual cover that I found rather hilarious.

Today's entry comes from Elizabeth Kate Switaj, the author of Magdalene & the Mermaids and an editor of Gender Across Borders.

Descent of Alette by Alice Notley

This is an epic poem that plays with and dissects the form while also reclaiming it for ends that are, among other things, feminist. She not only examines the problems of contemporary life but provides us a model of solving and challenging them that escapes the heroic-antiheroic binary. A more realistic version of this can be seen in her autobiographical poems in Mysteries of Small Houses.


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  1. I read this book in undergrad, the semester after my first Women's Studies class. It resonated with me for a very long time, not only because of the subject matter, but because it is beautifully crafted.

    I also love that take off on the cover, particularly because it would be a nice contrast to EA's Inferno - which is about as un-feminist as you can get.

  2. We are reading this book now (Evergreen State College) and I'm loving it. This is my first poetry class, so I don't feel qualified to review the quality of work, other than to tell you that the poetry really moves and takes you to unexpected places.


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