ISBN-10: 0872868702
ISBN-13: 9780872868700
Publisher: City Lights Books
Publish Date: 11/29/2022
Dimensions: 6.20" L, 4.80" W, 0.40" H

Published by City Lights

Divine Blue Light (for John Coltrane): Pocket Poets Series No. 63


Price: $11.87


From Will Alexander, finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, a new collection of poems from the intersection between surrealism and afro-futurism, where Césaire meets Sun Ra. Divine Blue Light further affirms Alexander’s status as one of the most unique and innovative voices in contemporary poetry.

One of Publishers Weekly’s Top 10 Notable Poetry Books for Fall 2022!

“Since the 1980s, the Los Angeles-based Alexander has mixed politics with mesmeric, oracular lines.”–The New York Times

Against the ruins of a contemporary globalist discourse, which he denounces as a “lingual theocracy of super-imposed rationality,” Will Alexander’s poems constitute an alternative cartography that draws upon omnivorous reading–in subjects from biology to astronomy to history to philosophy–amalgamating their diverse vocabularies into an impossible instrument only he can play. Divine Blue Light is anchored by three major works: the opening “Condoned to Disappearance,” a meditation on the heteronymic exploits of Portuguese modernist Fernando Pessoa; the closing “Imprecation as Mirage,” a poem channeling an Indonesian man; and the title poem, an anthemic ode to the jazz saxophonist John Coltrane. Other key pieces include “Accessing Gertrude Bell,” a critique of one of the designers of the modern state of Iraq; “Deficits: Chaïm Soutine & Joan Miró,” in homage to two Jewish artists forced to flee the Nazi invasion of France; and “According to Stellar Scale,” a compact lyric that traveled to space with astronaut Sian Proctor. The newest installment in our Pocket Poets Series, Divine Blue Light confirms Alexander’s status among the foremost surrealists writing in English today.

Praise for Divine Blue Light:

“Adopting a surrealist approach to making sense of the universe, Alexander plumbs language for its limits, often with dazzling results….Pondering the mysteries of existence and artistic influence, this engrossing work turns the quest for self-knowledge into a choral act.”–Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Alexander’s range–which moves past the propriety of each subject to the expansiveness of every–can be approximated as Aimé Césaire’s totality of the lion, or form and emptiness, or appositional, apparitional Black being. And this being is most real and realized through the collection’s quantum mechanics and dynamics, which Alexander invokes astrophysically, evokes metaphysically.”–Jenna Peng, The Poetry Foundation

“These surrealist and Afrofuturist poems examine politics, globalism, and the powers and limitations of language, while paying tribute to artists forced to flee the Nazi invasion of France.”–Maya Popa, Publishers Weekly

“The ‘invisible current’ Will Alexander channels in the meteoric poems of Divine Blue Light is not surreal escape but vibrational engagement–an engagement with the infinite streams of the heart of being.”–Jeffrey Yang, author of Line and Light

“Like agua tilting itself into a god, Will’s texts suffuse the horizon of Poetry with the abstract purity of their oceanic movements, sun-condensing, dissolving seemingly endless sight into a disappearing instant of the Miraculous. Divine Blue Light exists by what it exudes.”–Carlos Lara, author of Like Bismuth When I Enter

Read More
In The News

Ten Questions for Will Alexander,” Poets & Writers, interview

Three Poems by Will Alexander From the Collection Divine Blue Light (for John Coltrane),” Literary Hub, excerpt

Divine Blue Light,Publishers Weekly, starred review

Never Static,” Poetry Foundation, interview with Will Alexander and Jenna Peng

12 New Books for November,” ALTA Online, article

November 2022 Books by Black Authors We Can’t Wait to Read,” The Root, article

Fall 2022 Announcements: Poetry,” Publishers Weekly, article

The 27 Best Books About Los Angeles in 2022,” L.A. Taco

Poems for John Coltrane,” Fifth Estate, review

More In The News

Praise for Divine Blue Light:

"If anarchism in literature involves breaking down conventions of thought and expression and exploring new ways for words and ideas to rub shoulders, set off sparks, and make beautiful music together, then Alexander may be its prophet."–Robert Knox, Fifth Estate

"Will Alexander's new book of poetry takes inspiration from its namesake containing poems of such abstraction and vigor that the end result is a reader who can't feel anything but awe. Awe not only at the vistas suddenly made visible by Alexander's poetry but also awe at the technique at work. While reading Divine Blue Light, it was apparent that I was at the hands of a master who has honed his craftsmanship to such a degree that every poem seems like a miracle."–​Bennard Fajardo, Politics and Prose Bookstore

"Alexander does for sound what he does for space, parsing its smallest units with microscopic precision."Charles Rammelkamp, The Lake

Praise for Refractive Africa (2021), finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry:

"Will Alexander's improvisatory cosmicity pushes poetic language to the point of most resistance–incantatory and swirling with magical laterality and recovery."–The Pulitzer Prizes

"Since the 1980s, the Los Angeles-based Alexander has mixed politics with mesmeric, oracular lines."–Greg Cowles, The New York Times

"This visionary act of 'transpersonal witness' to a continent is an Afromodernist epic in the tradition of Kamau Brathwaite's The Arrivants. ... Refractive Africa embraces an aesthetic of sprawl and overreach, summoning free-flowing visions of grandeur and desolation. Alexander, an American, is the author of more than 30 books, and his introduction to a British readership is overdue."–The Guardian

"There is likely no poetry more propulsive, visually kinetic, and intricately layered than that composed by Will Alexander. ... Alexander's seemingly over-rich language and ideation establish an imaginative realm that is entirely unlike any other, one in which we are immersed in sheer, coruscating energy. ... Embodying an intensity of feeling that brims close to overwhelming, these poems bear persuasive witness to the history of Africa, of colonialism, and of Black selfhood and resistance. Too much on these themes, Alexander asserts, is not nearly enough."–Hyperallergic

"Powerful and visionary."–The Skinny

"Will Alexander (finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry) writes metaphorically and syntactically rich poetry dense in compound adjectival phrases, creating a world view that poetizes the forces at work in life (biological, historical, and linguistic) and works of the imagination as simultaneous at all levels of material and non-material existence, quantum to galactic, organic and technical. It's turtles all the way down, up, and out. But what turtles!....Not easy reading but one that rewards study at a slow pace."–Tom Bowden, The Book Beat

Praise for Will Alexander:

"A long-distance runner extraordinaire, Will Alexander parses and devours information, code and arcana lest they parse and devour him, parse and devour us. What but deep seas and distant galaxies would make such a demand his extended soliloquies implicitly ask and overtly answer."–Nathaniel Mackey

"Alexander's voice speaks to its situation–social, political, ecological–in the Anthropocene. ... Anticipating a collective leap of human consciousness comparable to the Mind's original emergence in Africa, Alexander reports on the 'world as it is today' as if from a standpoint in the future, from an alterity in which this momentous leap has already occurred."–Andrew Joron, Caesura

"Cosmological, astrological, philosophical, geological, mathematical, and hypnogogical in scope, Alexander finds concordance in chaotic discord. Like a force of nature, a procession of seamless symbols, the lines roll out as variant strata compress into a crystalline composite."Jeffrey Cyphers Wright, The Brooklyn Rail

"As we spin toward planetary suicide at the hands of oily capitalizers, it will be the prophetic words of poets such as Will Alexander, with their imaginal radiance, which hold any hope of lighting the way to a true alchemical amnesty and new modes of being."Dorothy Wang, author of Thinking in its Presence

"It is tempting to label Alexander a surrealist or experimentalist, but he is truly a singular voice."–Citation for the Jackson Poetry Prize

"Alexander's verbal flights strike me as more shamanistic than free-associational or automatic. His evocation of upper and lower worlds, and his vocabulary which bridges poetry, philosophy, myth, and science, give his verbal fulgurations a sense of linguistic seed that suddenly sprouts, then resprouts ... He may be the first major 'outsider artist' in American poetry. Whatever he is, he is a force to reckon with ..."–American Poet

"Alexander's comfort and willingness to discuss occasions beyond our normal daily experiences excites the imagination with the warmth of ecstatic re-envisioning. This is writing that opens up new worlds, crisp and direct in its offering of unique and valuable gifts."–Rain Taxi

"A vastly under-appreciated and important avant-garde poet, who deserves a wider audience."Huffington Post

More Reviews


ISBN-10: 0872868702
ISBN-13: 9780872868700
Publisher: City Lights Books
Publish Date: 11/29/2022
Dimensions: 6.20" L, 4.80" W, 0.40" H
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