Born and raised in Los Angeles, Will Alexander is a poet and visionary that has both dazzled and confounded the American poetry scene for a number of years. The most obvious categorisation is to place him in the imported Surrealist tradition that has been filtered to the American public through such literary dynamos as Aimé Cesaire, Octavio Paz, Philip Lamantia, Bob Kaufman, all of whom are often cited by Alexander as being influential along with originators like André Breton and Antonin Artaud. So while many of his contemporaries have been drawn to the projective verse traditions of William Carlos Williams and all its New York School and Beat spin-offs, Alexander has been more at home plundering the subconscious as prescripted by members of the European and South American avant-garde, all the more spiced by his interest in revolutionary supraconscious figures like Wilfredo Lam and Sri Aurobindo. Indeed there is something of proto-Pangean consciousness in his epic poems, which at times, in the Blakean sense, look past existing models in search of new premium mobiles to spin and interior cosmologies to explore. In the words of Andrew Joron (introducing Towards the Primeval Lightning Field) he is the “universal translator of the multitude of tongues (both human and inhuman) emitted by the Signal of signals.” Reviewer Mark Scroggins echoes this by insisting the poet is “acutely conscious of the issue of poetic voice, and is unwilling to let poetry’s potential for ventriloquising or exploring the voices of others be subsumed in an impersonal écriture or ultimately homogenous montage.” Fellow poet Harryette Mullen has said “This is a poet whose lexicon, a ‘glossary of vertigo,’ might be culled from the complete holdings of a reconstituted Alexandrian library endowed for the next millennium.”
Although known principally as a poet after a series of epic works such as Asia & Haiti, Above the Human Nerve Domain, Exobiology as Goddess, and The Sri Lankan Loxodrome, Will Alexander is also a dramatist, novelist, musician, and Philosopher. Indeed, Andrew Joron has suggested that “there is no generic discontinuity between (his) philosophy and poetry” and Garret Caples recalled Wittgenstein’s comment about the philosophical Lion in his essay, “The Impossibility of Will Alexander’s Prose.” Alexander’s most direct ties to American culture are found in the world of Jazz, particularly the work of post-bop visionaries, John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy. About this important lineage he has written: “It made me feel that I had allies, that there were others who knew that the material world was completely permeable, and that none of the rationally stated boundaries could contain the imaginal.”
Skylight Press is proud to publish Will Alexander’s upcoming novel, Diary as Sin, as it speaks to universal themes in an alchemical rendering of poetry, prose, philosophy and music. It is the evocative story of a sand blind woman, Rosanna Galvez, who confined to a private Catholic home in New Mexico, unveils her beginnings as an incest baby – and moves through the odyssey beyond – with powerful incantatory language.