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Alice Notley Papers
MSS 0319  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Biography
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Alice Notley Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0319
    Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
    9500 Gilman Drive
    La Jolla, California, 92093-0175
    Languages: English
    Physical Description: 31.0 Linear feet (48 archives boxes and 68 oversize folders)
    Date (inclusive): 1969-2001
    Abstract: Papers of Alice Notley, American artist and poet. Materials include Notley's notebooks (1969-1990), correspondence with other artists and poets, collages, sketches, and watercolors. The accession processed in 1998 includes manuscripts, notebooks and correspondence. The accession processed in 2003 contains correspondence (late 1990s-2001), drafts of poetry and prose for recent books, notebooks, and collages, fans and other artworks. Also included are production materials for the literary magazine Gard du Nord. The accession processed in 2011 contains correspondence (bulk dates 2000-2010), Notley's dream notebooks (1995-2008) and later writings (bulk dates 2005-2011).
    Creator: Notley, Alice, 1945-

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Accession Processed in 1995
    The Alice Notley Papers documents Notley's career as an artist and writer. The collection is comprised of notebooks containing manuscript drafts of much of Notley's published work, correspondence with numerous poets and editors, and collages and other examples of her visual art. The bulk of the collection dates from the late 1960s through the 1990s; the papers are arranged in four series: 1) MANUSCRIPTS, 2) NOTEBOOKS, 3) CORRESPONDENCE, and 4) ARTWORKS.
    The MANUSCRIPTS series contains a play in three acts entitled "Twilight Vision."
    The NOTEBOOKS series, which is arranged chronologically, dates from 1969 to 1990. Entries document Notley's day-to-day activities and her personal associations, as well as her literary production. The notebooks also include drawings and Notley's meditations on others writers such as Dante, Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and William Carlos Williams.
    The CORRESPONDENCE series is extensive and includes letters from people prominent in contemporary art and literature, for example, Joe Brainard, Andrei Codrescu, Edward Halsey Foster, Allen Ginsberg, Douglas Messerli, Eileen Myles, Ron Padgett, Leslie Scalapino, Anne Waldman, and Philip Whalen. The series is arranged alphabetically by correspondent and primarily falls within the time span 1988-1994.
    The ARTWORKS series contain seven subseries: A) Collages, B) Book Collages, C) Box Collages, D) Fan Collages, E) Mask Collages, F) Sketches and G) Watercolors. Each subseries is arranged alphabetically by title. In cases when a title is not supplied by Notley, a title was supplied based on a topic sentence or major feature or theme of the work. The content of Notley's artworks vary from human portraits, women's figures, everyday life images and landscapes to abstract objects, shapes and colors. Her style is sensuous, lyrical, humorous, and even transnational. She often incorporates traditional elements of Chinese and Japanese art in her collages.
    Accession Processed in 1998
    The accession processed in 1998 contains a typescript of Close to Me and Closer... (Language of Heaven) and Desamere (1995), notebooks (1990-1994) and correspondence (1991-1997).
    Accession Processed in 2003
    The accession processed in 2003 supplements the first two accessions and includes correspondence, notebooks, manuscripts, and artworks. In addition, it contains materials related to Notley and Doug Oliver's editing of the literary magazine, Gare du Nord. The bulk of the accession dates from the late 1990s through 2001 and is arranged in seven series: 5) CORRESPONDENCE, 6) WRITINGS, 7) NOTEBOOKS, 8) GARE DU NORD PRODUCTION MATERIALS, 9) ARTWORKS, 10) MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS and 11) ORIGINALS OF PRESERVATION PHOTOCOPIES.
    The CORRESPONDENCE series, arranged alphabetically, continues the earlier accessions, with materials dating mostly from the late 1990s through 2001. It includes correspondence with many prominent artists and writers, as well as a number of younger writers. Most extensive in this series are the correspondence files with Katy Lederer, Eleanor Nauen, Leslie Scalapino, Eleni Sikelianos, and Anne Waldman.
    The WRITINGS series, arranged chrolologically, contains a number of drafts and typescripts of published books, as well as essays. Included are materials for Homer's Art (1990), Desamere (1995), Descent of Alette (1996), Mysteries of Small Houses (1988), and Disobedience (2001).
    The NOTEBOOKS series includes a number of small and large notebooks dating from roughly 1988-1997. These notebooks contain notes and drafts for various essays and poems published in Disobedience (2001), as well as her book, Coming After (2005), published by Ann Arbor Press. The series is arranged chronologically.
    The GARE DU NORD PRODUCTION MATERIALS series contains materials related to the publishing of the literary magazine which Notley and her husband, Douglas Oliver, founded and edited from 1997 through 1999. It contains correspondence, manuscripts and paste-ups associated with each issue, and is arranged chronologically by issue. Within each issue, however, the materials are arranged alphabetically according to the authors' last names.
    The ARTWORKS series is arranged in two subseries: A) Fans and Collages and B) Miscellaneous.
    A) The Fans and Collages subseries, arranged alphabetically by title, contains a number of works which contain collage-elements, including a number of fans decorated with paint and collage. Many of the works include everyday-objects, such as a key, beads, lace, and stamps, as well as cut-out pieces from magazines.
    B) The Miscellaneous subseries contains many pages from Notley's sketchbooks. Many of these works are done in pen-and-ink and watercolor, but there are some other media used as well. Also included are flyers for poetry readings which Notley created and works for Ted Berrigan (her first husband), and Douglas Oliver (her second husband). The subseries is arranged alphabetically.
    This series contains flyers and announcements for readings and conferences in which Notley participated, as well as some unidentified items.
    The ORIGINALS OF PRESERVATION PHOTOCOPIES series contains the originals of brittle or high acid content documents that have been photocopied.
    Accession Processed in 2011
    The CORRESPONDENCE series, arranged alphabetically, includes materials dating primarily from 2000-2010. Some highlights include correspondence with Edmund Berrigan regarding the poems of Ted Berrigan; Leslie Scalapino; Eleni Sikelianos; and Anne Waldman.
    The DREAM NOTEBOOKS series includes 21 small and large notebooks dating from 1995-2008. These notebooks are arranged chronologically and contain Notley's recollections of her dreams.
    The WRITINGS series, arranged chrolologically, contains a number of drafts and typescripts of her published books, and some essays. The bulk of the writings date from 2005-2011 and include City Of (2005), Coming After (2005), Alma, or the Dead Women (2006), In the Pines (2007), and Above the Leaders (2008), Reason and Other Women (2010), Culture of One (2011) and Songs and Stories of the Ghouls (2011) and others.


    Alice Notley was born in 1945 in Bisbee, Arizona. She received a B.A from Barnard College, in 1967, and an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa in 1969. She married the writer Ted Berrigan in 1972, with whom she had two sons. After Berrigan's death in 1983, she married the British poet Doug Oliver and relocated to Paris, France.
    Notley's writing and art responds to a broad spectrum of American culture. Her experiments with poetic forms and free verse owe as much to Gertrude Stein, Frank O'Hara, and Ted Berrigan as they do to William Carlos Williams. Like them, she believes that she is writing primarily to express her own personal tone of voice. She feels her speech is the voice of "the new wife, and the new mother" in her own time, but her first aim is to make a poem, rather than present a platform of social reform.
    Among the numerous collections of verse that Notley has published are Incidental in the Day World (1973), When I was Alive (1980), Waltzing Matilda (1981), Margaret and Dusty (1985), and How Spring Comes (1981) which received a 1982 San Francisco Poetry Center Book Award. In addition to her poems, Notley wrote a short autobiography entitled Tell Me Again (1982).
    In addition to poetry, Notley has also experimented with the visual arts; her collection includes collages, watercolors, and sketches. Many of the collages are composed of everyday objects and images and are quite consistent with her poetry in that respect. A significant group of the collages are aimed at de-eroticizing images taken from pornographic magazines.
    With her second husband, Douglas Oliver, Notley co-edited the literary magazine, Gare Du Nord, publishing five issues in two years (1998-1999). However, the production of the magazine was put aside when in the fall of 1999, Douglas Oliver was diagnosed with cancer from which he died in the spring of 2000.
    Notley has continued to write both prose and poetry, published in such works as Desamere (1995), Mysteries of Small Houses (1998), Disobedience (2001), Coming After (2005), Alma or the Dead Women (2006), In the Pines (2007), Reason and Other Women (2010), Culture of One (2011) and Songs and Stories of the Ghouls (2011) among others.

    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.

    Preferred Citation

    Alice Notley Papers, MSS 319. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired 1995-2011.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Brainard, Joe, 1942-1994
    Codrescu, Andrei, 1946-
    Foster, Edward Halsey
    Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997
    Messerli, Douglas, 1947-
    Myles, Eileen
    Notley, Alice, 1945- , Close to me & closer
    Notley, Alice, 1945- , Desamere
    Notley, Alice, 1945- -- Archives
    Padgett, Ron, 1942-
    Scalapino, Leslie
    Waldman, Anne, 1945-
    Whalen, Philip
    American poetry -- 20th century
    Art, American -- 20th century
    Women poets -- United States