Alice Notley

Alice Notley

1967 - 1970
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Alice Notley’s Masters Thesis at the Main Library

University of Iowa Main Library
125 West Washington St.

In the University of Iowa archives, Alice Notley’s unpublished 1970 thesis gives relevant insights about Notley’s experience in Iowa City. The thesis, titled “Poems & Stories,” consists of various poems and short stories that Notley wrote while in the workshop, including the first poem (pictured) “courage is the only root of beauty” and a wry piece that mentions the Colonial Inn in neighboring Coralville.


Notley, Alice. “Poems & Stories”. University of Iowa Graduate College Master’s Thesis, 1970. Image: Toby Altman


Anselm Hollo meets Alice Notley

Iowa Writers' Workshop (Dey House)
507 North Clinton Street, Iowa City, Iowa

Alice Notley and Anselm Hollo had a close teacher-mentor relationship while Hollo was teaching at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. This mentorship led Notley to leave Iowa City for Morocco in 1968. When Notley returned to Iowa City, she met the poet Ted Berrigan, who had begun teaching as an instructor at the school that fall. She later married Berrigan and moved to Southampton, New York, where they lived in the garage of painter Larry Rivers.

Anselm Hollo remembered meeting Alice as a student in his class, in this interview:

I knew Alice before I ever met Ted, in person. I’d met him in New York, but like partying, and I only really met Ted and talked to him when he came to Iowa to teach for a year. But Alice had at that time been a student at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop for two years.

Hollo, Anselm. “Anselm Hollo on Alice Notley’s Magazine Chicago.” i Said Ok Wow, 18 Nov. 2015,


Notley on Poetry in Iowa City

Iowa City
123 S Linn St

I started writing poems as soon as I started meeting poets and hearing poets read their work, immediately after I arrived in Iowa.

When I got to Iowa and began to write poems, I think I had finally discovered how to compose on some level; I was composing the poems.  They proceeded harmonically and were both emotional and abstract.  I of course would never have said this at the time.  The second poetry reading I attended was by Bob Creeley, and I was tremendously impressed by his musicality and the fact that I couldn’t understand him and didn’t at all mind that.

Brown, Laynie. “A Conversation with Alice Notley on the Poet’s Novel.” Jacket 2, 15 Mar. 2013,

Alice Notley was born November 8, 1945 in Bisbee, Arizona, but spent most of her young life in Needles, California. Notley received her bachelors’ degree from Barnard College and attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, at first for fiction and shortly after, for poetry. Notley met her first husband, fellow poet Ted Berrigan, while attending the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in Iowa City.

Notley is the author of over 25 books of poetry, including How Spring Comes (1981), which received the San Francisco Poetry Award, Mysteries of Small Houses (1998), which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and her collection Disobedience (2001), which was awarded the Griffin International Poetry Prize. Notley’s recent work includes Grave of Light: New and Selected Poems 1970-2005, which received the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize.


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