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A major new book-length visionary poem from a writer "whose poems are among the major astonishments of contemporary poetry" (Robert Polito, The Poetry Foundation) Alice Notley has become one of the most highly regarded figures in American poetry, a master of the visionary mode acclaimed for genre-bending, book-length poems of great ambition and adventurousness. Her newest b A major new book-length visionary poem from a writer "whose poems are among the major astonishments of contemporary poetry" (Robert Polito, The Poetry Foundation) Alice Notley has become one of the most highly regarded figures in American poetry, a master of the visionary mode acclaimed for genre-bending, book-length poems of great ambition and adventurousness. Her newest book, For the Ride, is another such work. The protagonist, "One," is suddenly within The Glyph, whose walls projects scenes One can enter, and One does so. Other beings begin to materialize, and it seems like they (and One) are all survivors of a global disaster. They board a ship to flee to another dimension; they decide what they must save on this Ark are words, and they gather together as many as are deemed fit to save. They "sail" and meanwhile begin to change the language they are speaking, before disembarking at an abandoned future city.


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A major new book-length visionary poem from a writer "whose poems are among the major astonishments of contemporary poetry" (Robert Polito, The Poetry Foundation) Alice Notley has become one of the most highly regarded figures in American poetry, a master of the visionary mode acclaimed for genre-bending, book-length poems of great ambition and adventurousness. Her newest b A major new book-length visionary poem from a writer "whose poems are among the major astonishments of contemporary poetry" (Robert Polito, The Poetry Foundation) Alice Notley has become one of the most highly regarded figures in American poetry, a master of the visionary mode acclaimed for genre-bending, book-length poems of great ambition and adventurousness. Her newest book, For the Ride, is another such work. The protagonist, "One," is suddenly within The Glyph, whose walls projects scenes One can enter, and One does so. Other beings begin to materialize, and it seems like they (and One) are all survivors of a global disaster. They board a ship to flee to another dimension; they decide what they must save on this Ark are words, and they gather together as many as are deemed fit to save. They "sail" and meanwhile begin to change the language they are speaking, before disembarking at an abandoned future city.

30 review for For the Ride

  1. 5 out of 5

    Anima

    Deserted images, rough pathways among mosaic fragments spread on the canvas of a delicate heart. Within the borders of poetry, an interesting new style built with dispersed particles of grace, sensitivity, gentleness. “One remembers too much: love has killed One. What tense is that? Past love, that’s a tense. When one enters into a rock one can’t regulate, it’s too hard. Death exists to make it harder. They’re just words, though, here. The words-to-be crowd round. Not separate! That’s the first thin Deserted images, rough pathways among mosaic fragments spread on the canvas of a delicate heart. Within the borders of poetry, an interesting new style built with dispersed particles of grace, sensitivity, gentleness. “One remembers too much: love has killed One. What tense is that? Past love, that’s a tense. When one enters into a rock one can’t regulate, it’s too hard. Death exists to make it harder. They’re just words, though, here. The words-to-be crowd round. Not separate! That’s the first thing to know.”

  2. 4 out of 5

    Geoff

    Lots and lots of pyrotechnics using and about language. Reminds me a lot of the modernist formal language experiments of Gertrude Stein or T.S Eliot or Samuel Beckett. But just like those works, while this one was intellectually interesting, it mostly left me cold. I can see how Notley was putting passion into some of her arguments around language and words and their importance, but the word to suss them out put me so into my head, that the emotional impact just washed right over me. I'm left im Lots and lots of pyrotechnics using and about language. Reminds me a lot of the modernist formal language experiments of Gertrude Stein or T.S Eliot or Samuel Beckett. But just like those works, while this one was intellectually interesting, it mostly left me cold. I can see how Notley was putting passion into some of her arguments around language and words and their importance, but the word to suss them out put me so into my head, that the emotional impact just washed right over me. I'm left impressed but mostly unmoved. **Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    David Jordan

    While listening to an interview with Grammy-award winning music producer John Congleton, I was struck by his admission that he assumes something is amiss with his own listening whenever he hears music he "doesn't like." He continues to listen until he discovers a means for appreciating the music he hears, thereby solving the problem he discovered within himself. That way he doesn't resort to describing the music as bad, but rather simply as music he wasn't ready to hear upon first listen. I was While listening to an interview with Grammy-award winning music producer John Congleton, I was struck by his admission that he assumes something is amiss with his own listening whenever he hears music he "doesn't like." He continues to listen until he discovers a means for appreciating the music he hears, thereby solving the problem he discovered within himself. That way he doesn't resort to describing the music as bad, but rather simply as music he wasn't ready to hear upon first listen. I was reminded of this approach while reading Alice Notley's new book, For the Ride. This book is not for me, but I don't intend that criticism to be interpreted in such a way that the inference is, "this is a bad book." Rather, I haven't learned yet to appreciate what the author has created here. Perhaps I'm too unfamiliar with this style of verse; maybe I read this volume in the wrong frame of mind; or it could be that I need a greater appreciation for Ms. Notley and her particular craft. My hope is that I can be forgiven for having no prior familiarity with Alice Notley before reading this book, but this was my first introduction to her work. About halfway through, I recognized the challenge I was having grasping this material satisfactorily, and I recall thinking that there was a good possibility this had been written by an extremely talented poet whose skills transcended my comprehension and appreciation level. The author bio at the end of the book revealed to me that suspicion was well-founded. I discovered that the vocabulary, syntax, and subject matter all eluded me somehow, and I am willing to take the blame for it. If this book was indeed written with a target demographic in mind, my own residence is located many miles off that map. As an example of a passage that left me scratching my head at its incomprehension, I share this: “Can the ones call each other poet as pronoun? “Poet are fair, are real” poet says The ones ‘re to poet, ial whatreflected ‘poet love ever it can upon by poet.’ Or, po- be called. no light but et are a jerk, Time’s un- of words in poet am bad. glued, it this grey this is a isn’t that city. Poets f o s that One (Poet) by h o r a glitters within n s n o t a r m k en morçeaux e i e r h n ‘ e ou cum spiri- c t ‘ m e d f s tu auditionis— e y. s hearing but s i e what vibrates? o f n s s e n tNot air as the ones have ever defined it, or space—What are poets, Why are ones alive? foot- of the loose dead? in the street Help Ones, Ether One’s not different from source of the words cast upon one like light.” Reading the above, I found myself hoping my electronic advance reader copy was faulty, somehow. While this is one of the more difficult passages for me, I found myself nearly as lost on all the other pages as well. Occasionally though, I would be pleasantly surprised with brief passages or lines that I liked: “But I was never born. I have always been. Exactly at the right time.” If Ms. Notley wrote this book with you in mind, you're probably going to love it. If you're a fan of her writing or familiar with her other work (unlike myself), you may find plenty here to enjoy and appreciate. Unfortunately, I haven't yet spent enough time with this to learn how to enjoy it properly. Thank you to Penguin Books and Netgalley.com for the electronic advance reader copy provided for this review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Paul Scott

    I DID NOT understand quite a bit of this, but I did not understand quite a bit of Blake's Jerusalem, The Emanation of the Giant Albion either, and I suspect they are kindred poems, both compelling even when, maybe especially when mysterious. For the Ride could be taken for, and may well be, an addition to the post-apocalyptic fantasy tradition, in that we have a character, One, who is sole survivor of some unexplained catastrophe. One is surrounded by a screen or ring of screens, the Glyph, which I DID NOT understand quite a bit of this, but I did not understand quite a bit of Blake's Jerusalem, The Emanation of the Giant Albion either, and I suspect they are kindred poems, both compelling even when, maybe especially when mysterious. For the Ride could be taken for, and may well be, an addition to the post-apocalyptic fantasy tradition, in that we have a character, One, who is sole survivor of some unexplained catastrophe. One is surrounded by a screen or ring of screens, the Glyph, which contains events other characters with which and with whom One interacts. What the Glyph presents is shifting and unstable, so we have references to One contending with chaos--and that was a big trigger for me. I immediately (and, yes, perhaps mistakenly) associated these with Satan's journey through Chaos in Book II of Paradise Lost. This fit, I thought--the post-apocalyptic genre, being about re-creation, is necessarily also about creation, pure and simple, every re-creation being its own creation, in a way. And Paradise Lost is about creation, of course, both God's and Satan's rivaling of it, which is exactly what Blake was picking up on in Milton and then on larger scale in Four Zoas and Jerusalem, with his own mythology of creation, fall, and renewal. Notley's writing a lot of the book in a sixteen-syllable line also put me in mind of Blake and his good English fourteener, and the shaped poems that occur in most of the poem's eighteen "books," if I may call them that, seem analogous to Blake's illuminations, the images that accompany the poems. (There's also the slightly antique feel Notley imparts by such elisions as "fore'er," or "suff'ring," or indicating that some past tense forms need to have their endings pronounced, as in "scarèd".) I was even ready to see Notley's Shaker as Blake's Urizen, Notley's One as Blake's Albion, as all the poem's other characters may be his emanations ("phantom amoebic splits off one"). The Many are the One, the One is the Many...that sort of idea. And Blake's mythology also being psychology, a theory of being--that too may be blowing through the transoms here, with a carom off of Ronald Johnson's Ark...for I have persuaded myself that the ark Notley repeatedly refers to is not Noah's (familiar though it is) but Johnson's poem, his own analysis of the sensorium of the human and the grounds of being. Johnson of course has his own rich history with Milton (Radi Os). What brings it all home is Notley's contemplation of language, language as author of our being--can we become authors of our own language and so authors of our own being? (Milton's Satan again, refusing to be cast as a creation.) Something important, I suspect, happens in Book XIV, "Absorbs Them," leading to the whirling linguistic dismantling of Book XV, "I Have Been Let Out of Prison." For, as she says near the beginning of the poem: Build an ark of words. One's supposed to be inventing new language, definitely tearing down the old of gender, tensal submission, whatall, pomposities to enslave one...Tear it down as ones save ones-- Ark of salvation and destruction of the old at same time. Wake up! Tear it down! and save one. One is the species, words are. And then near the end: I'm tryin to change the langue so no social struct Just hummin tween the chaons Yep. Just hummin tween the chaons.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kyle

    Easily one of the more difficult things I've read lately, but Notley has always had a way of making that difficult really feel worth it. Not because she reaches grand epiphanies and imparts wisdom, but because while you work through the text and when that work is done, you are able to think yourself in new and different ways. Even if this is not my favorite of her works, it is work well done. Easily one of the more difficult things I've read lately, but Notley has always had a way of making that difficult really feel worth it. Not because she reaches grand epiphanies and imparts wisdom, but because while you work through the text and when that work is done, you are able to think yourself in new and different ways. Even if this is not my favorite of her works, it is work well done.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    I can see the technical skill that went into this book-length poem, and admire the craft of it, but I’m not quite sure I can really say I enjoyed reading it. It’s a demanding book, for sure, but I’m not convinced the payoff was worth the effort.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany Grace

    What holds together a self? What holds together a poem, or a collection of them? I don't know if I have the answer now, but I enjoyed the ride & the threat that at any point, the wheels might come off. All hail the Winged Coyote! Arrrroooorrrrrr rrr. What holds together a self? What holds together a poem, or a collection of them? I don't know if I have the answer now, but I enjoyed the ride & the threat that at any point, the wheels might come off. All hail the Winged Coyote! Arrrroooorrrrrr rrr.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Margaryta

    REVIEW FORTHCOMING IN The Adroit Journal

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Killian

  10. 4 out of 5

    Virginia

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kaplan

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas Lawrence

  13. 5 out of 5

    John

  14. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin Priede

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tay Tay

  16. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin de Boer

  17. 5 out of 5

    Julia

  18. 4 out of 5

    K. Aisling

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dan

  20. 5 out of 5

    mark mendoza

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ty Evans

  22. 5 out of 5

    Robert

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Harvey

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kashif

  25. 4 out of 5

    Emily

  26. 5 out of 5

    Salo Birra

  27. 5 out of 5

    Marije de Wit

  28. 5 out of 5

    evan

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tandi Bungalow

  30. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel Costello

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