Poet finishes off 2015 spring reading series

Sara  Sneath By Sara Sneath

April 23, 2015 at 6 p.m.
Updated April 23, 2015 at 11:08 p.m.

Alice Notley was the final speaker in the spring 2015 University of Houston-Victoria/American Book Review Reading Series.

Alice Notley was the final speaker in the spring 2015 University of Houston-Victoria/American Book Review Reading Series.   Sara Sneath for The Victoria Advocate

The moment Alice Notley "arrived" was the moment she began looking at the world, and her writing, as something public.

"Learning to speak for everybody made me arrive," Notley said.

Poetry is often seen as a glimpse, or a moment, said Charles Alexander, University of Houston-Victoria poet and designer in residence.

But Notley, who read at the University of Houston-Victoria/American Book Review Reading Series on Thursday, shatters that perception. Notley's long poems entertain multiple perspectives, flowing through moments of confusion, conflict and clarity.

"Notley understands that any moment of clarity we come to is partial and temporary," Alexander said.

In her final poem of the afternoon, Notley read as the voices of a barrage of women, whose situation ranged from having starving children to contemplating a ladybug on her palm.

"I don't wish I was younger. I was stupid then," one voice in the poem said.

Notley's appearance was the last reading in the series for spring 2015. It may also be the last reading in the Acorn Auditorium, where 80 such presentations have taken place, said Jeffrey Di Leo, dean of the UHV School of Arts and Sciences and ABR publisher and editor.

If construction is done in time, the series will resume in one of the campus' new spaces.

After reading a collection of her poems Thursday, Notley answered audience questions. She talked about her editing process, which is mostly cutting. And she talked about how, as a writer who writes from the perspective of a collection of characters, she sees the world.

"I think of reality as being a collage," she said. "... a collage that everyone can contribute to."


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