#tbt: An Alice Notley poem


In honor of #UPWeek, AAUP’s Blog Tour continues, with the theme of Throwback Thursday. Other participating presses are Harvard University Press, MIT PressTemple University PressUniversity of Toronto Press, and University of Washington Press.

Today’s Throwback Thursday selection is “Flowers of the Foothills & Mountain Valleys” from Alice Notley’s 2006 collection Grave of Light: New and Selected Poems, 1970-2005. She was recently the focus of a three-day symposium, ALETTE IN OAKLAND, hosted by the Bay Area Public School. The cover of her book Grave of Light is a reproduction of a beautiful collage created by Notley.


notley tbt



Compassion is pungent
& sharply aromatic. Small
yellow heads in late summer.
Love & hatred are
delicate & fragrant.
Around a yellow disc.
Glory is found along the shores
intoning “I change but in death.”
Sincerity has delicate &
feathery leaves. Dignity is
fragrant & looks like a little
brown nail. The leaves
of hidden worth are deeply cut;
a 19th-century American
artist & inventor. Sir
Thomas Campion blooms in July
pinkly with notched petals. The
clearest of gins taste of
bluish protection, lovely
Mary & little Jesus found
refuge, in Egypt, in gin.
Hid from sight in
the bark of the cinnamon tree
a light flashes on & off,
dazzles, whistles. Remembrance
is the most fragrant, love is
the most dark pink, courage
is grey-green growing wild.


ALICE NOTLEY is the author of many collections of poems, including Songs and Stories of the Ghouls and Pulitzer Prize-finalist Mysteries of Small Houses. She is the recipient of the Griffin Poetry Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Poetry, the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the San Francisco Poetry Center Book Award.