Born in 1948 in Los Angeles, Will Alexander is a poet, novelist, playwright, philosopher, visual artist, and musician. He has published over two dozen books in a variety of genres and has earned many honors and awards including a Whiting Fellowship for Poetry, a California Arts Council Fellowship, the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award, a Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award, and the 2016 Jackson Poetry Prize. He has also exhibited his artwork in group and solo shows. His work is known for its visionary, oracular surrealism and the influence of Negritude. Among his publications are Refractive Africa (New Directions, 2021/Granta, 2022), which was a finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, The Combustion Cycle (Roof, 2021), Across the Vapor Gulf (New Directions, 2017), and The Sri Lankan Loxodrome (New Directions, 2009). His book Compression & Purity (2011) was volume five in the City Lights Spotlight Poetry Series. He is currently the poet-in-residence at Beyond Baroque in Venice, California. He has lived his entire life in Los Angeles.
City Lights Books will celebrate the publication of Divine Blue Light (for John Coltrane): Pocket Poets Series No. 63 by Will Alexander with our very first in-store event since the beginning of the pandemic. This event will be both broadcast online and take place inside City Lights Bookstore. More details can be found at this link.
Where are you writing to us from?
I am writing from Los Angeles.
What is bringing you joy right now, personally/artistically/habitually?
What brings me satisfaction remains the positive infection of the imagination not normally conversant within realms prone to protracted rationally, perpetually contracted by cognitive constriction.
Which writers, artists, and others influence your work in general, and this book, specifically?
What has remained endemic over time has remained the endemic contagion that I have experienced via the imaginal realms of the painter Joan Miro and the poet Aime Cesaire not as ideological proponents, but via their own endemic fertility existentially nourished by the sweltering flow that invigoured Surrealism.
What books are you reading right now and would you recommend any to others?
I remain invigoured by the cross-hatching of essential texts for me such as Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Rene Guenon’s Rein of Quantity, and Ananda Coomaraswamy’s Christian and Oriental Philosophy of Art, with more recent works such as historian Gerald Horne’s recent work The Counter Revolution Of 1776, while mining psychic molecules from the work of Roxanne Dunbar-Ortizes’ work concerning existential Indigenous resistance.
If you opened a bookstore, where would it be located, what would it be called, and what would your bestseller be?
Let me preclude this answer by saying I am not a business person. But should I open an ideal domain I would extract principles from James Fugates’ Eso-Won books and the spectacular independent locale Skylight Books, both of which are centered in Los Angeles. As for a name it would have to appear closer to its opening. It would be a mixture that would assist in vaulting the domain that is the higher mind.