Alice Notley's "Doctor Williams' Heiresses"
read by Will Holder
(for Adam Pendleton, Ian White and all single mothers)

December 28, 2010 - February 5, 2011

"This morning when I took a walk I thought about a talk I'll give next fall (I've been invited to your school) about Poetics.[...] I want to hand out Alice Notley's brilliant essay Dr Williams' Heiresses where she talks about how female poets like herself who externalize and twist internal daily life have hardly any female ancestors. The critic Kathleen Fraser thought that for not inventing some, Alice was a bad feminist. Alice Notley proved the possibility of writing poems no matter what; Kathleen Fraser is an academic." - Chris Kraus, I Love Dick

"We must stop reinscribing male words, and rewrite our ideas about what Nancy Miller calls a female impulse to power, as opposed to the erotic impulse which alone is supposed to impel women. We know we are without a text and must discover one." - Carolyn G. Heilbrun, Writing A Woman's Life

"Because we rejected a certain kind of theoretical language, people just assumed that we were dumb..." - Chris Kraus, I Love Dick

"I can identify the hand touched as the same one which will in a moment be touching. In other words, in this bundle of bones and muscles which my right hand presents to my left, I can anticipate for an instant the integument or incarnation of that other right hand, alive and mobile, which I thrust towards things in order to explore them. The tries to touch itself while being touched, and initiates 'a kind of reflection'" - Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception

Alice 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.

Will Holder is a designer and writer, preoccupied with conversation as a model for production and documentation. In May 2009, Holder curated "Talk Show" at the ICA, an exhibition and season of events concerning speech and accountability. He is editor of F.R.DAVID, a journal concerned with reading and writing in the arts, published by de Appel, Amsterdam.


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