Few poets writing today can compare with L.A.-based surrealist Will Alexander in terms of the intensity of his imagination or his radically experimental approach to language as material object. Through the use of automatic writing, Alexander practices a surrealism of the word, creating densely textured layers of signification from its sounded and written forms. Compression & Purity, volume five of our Spotlight poetry series, is Alexander's seventh full-length collection. Known for his visionary epics influenced by poets like Césaire, Artaud and Lamantia, Alexander here returns to shorter forms to address his ecological, cosmological and historical concerns. Highlights include monologues from the perspective of "The Blood Penguin" and "The Pope at Avignon," a song by the "Water on New Mars," and an homage to Cesar Vallejo, "Combustion & Leakage." In true surrealist fashion, the book also includes both an autobiographical lyric essay, "My Interior Vita," describing the evolution of Alexander's artistic consciousness through jazz and surrealism, and his disavowal of the autobiographical process, "On Anti-Biography." An imaginative tour de force, Compression & Purity confirms Alexander's reputation among surrealism's foremost contemporary practitioners.
"This new & rich gathering of Will Alexander's works – always in progress – marks him again as the true successor among us to the likes of Surreal & deeply explorative figures like Breton & Césaire. No other poet writing in America today does it the way that Alexander does – a range of words & images that startle & create new pathways for language & the mind-in-freedom (“alchemical, mesmeric, totalic,” as he names them in these pages). Compression & Purity, so aptly titled, is the work of a true American & world master – & a joy to have & read." —Jerome Rothenberg
“Even at its most confounding, most silent level, this work will unavoidably enter and leave you by a genetic thread of conscious mind woven beyond your 'domestic horizon,; your ‘provincial description' to a vibrating ‘celebration of un-brokeneness.’ This song, in the genealogical terms of cognitive evolution, sings us backwards ‘or forwards’ into a state where we are undifferentiated from the cosmos and can speak, as Will Alexander does, in the full range at once of carbon from dust to diamond.” —Ed Roberson