She received a Bachelor of Arts from Barnard College in spring 1967. Notley also obtained from the University of Iowa her Master of Fine Arts in 1969.
After her graduation, Notley spent periods of time in NYC and Buffalo. During the winter of 1970-1971, Notley lived on Long Island, and wrote her first book "165 Meeting House Lane (Twenty-Four Sonnets)". She is the author of a number of poetry and books.
She married Ted Berrigan on 1972, but he died in 1983. After his death, she married Douglas Oliver in 1988. Notley has two sons from the first marriage.