Alice Notley

The way Notley used visual art was very different than Joe Brainard and her husband, Ted Berrigan. While both Brainard and Berrigan used their writing to stimulate their art, Notley used her art to stimulate her writing. At the beginning of the video, you can hear Notley talk about her experiences with this at the Art Institute of Chicago. Notley would go to art museums to get away from all the work a mother of two has and go to the museum to look at art and write. Notley also used other pieces of writing to facilitate the creation of poems, as she did with the jade carvings. For Notley, visual art was key when it came to her creation process.


Notley also was just a creative and visual person in general. She created several small books of poems for friends, family, and her husband. In these works, each poem is accompanied by a sketch. Looking at all of these hand-made books makes you wonder: what came first - the drawing or the writing?

Notley also loved to make collages and other mixed media projects. In several birthday cards to Berrigan and others, the cards include drawings, cut out pictures, different paper, paint, etc. Notley even for a time experimented with the creation of fans. These fans were entirely handmade, and are extremely beautiful. One fan in particular, preserved at the Emory Rose Library Archives, shows a collage on both the front and back of the fan, with princess Leia, portraits of both Berrigan and Schiff, cut out pictures of flowers, painted blossoms, glitter, newspaper clippings, a penny, and several other mixed media. What is interesting about this fan is that it probably wasn’t used to fan Berrigan and Notley while they worked, or for their children to play with. This fan was made because Notley enjoyed the creative process. Later, this fan may have acted as a muse for one of Notley’s poems, but all in all, this fan was made for pleasure. This shows how much Notley appreciated and used the creative process as an escape from everyday life. 

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