cover image For the Ride

For the Ride

Alice Notley. Penguin, $20 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-0-14313-457-2

Notley (Certain Magical Acts) has long been synonymous with the second generation of the New York school, feminist poetics, political dissidence, and, in the last several decades, an epic mode that gives her jittery, particular, and inventive poems a novelistic sweep. This visionary book is a postapocalyptic adventure into an unspecified future, one that begins “in the l’Orangerie in Paris with Monet’s Water Lillies... a room of walls which come alive with images and words... like a mind?” but quickly accelerates into a trans-dimensional and gender-defying odyssey. One (her protagonist) and ones (One’s interlocutors) board an ark made of language to save words from the threat of extinction: “One’s not in time, what’s One in? Chaos, beautiful chaos—,” One observes. What follows is a series of 28 chapterlike poems embedded with smaller poems, which gives Notley boundless opportunities to comment on society (“Some ones are crying... opportune for some leaderly bullshit”) and to hopscotch through thoughtlike threads of language. This is a challenging, visionary work. (Mar.)