Photo Credit: Sheila Scott-Wilkinson
Stay tuned all month for poet interviews in honor of National Poetry Month.
1) Why poetry?
Poetry is aboriginal utterance. It generates the palpable via the impalpable. It concretizes the telapathic. It opens in us various scales of mystery. So the poet by his or her nature evinces living adventure. One can never predict the living glass of speech, or how it will spontaneously form, or predict the reverberation of its impact. By its very nature it is susurrant, provocative. The systemics of politics or religion fall by the wayside, and what makes it so foreboding is that it continues to provoke and generates beyond surcease. Because it needs no intermediary the quotidian is naturally understood to be of ancillary standing, thereby ceasing to corrode one’s seminal aural ignition. Poetry, for me, is not unlike dark energy, it galvanizes, yet eludes detection. There are some poets I maintain as being part of the populace of the uncontrollable. They have risen above the need for repartee with established means. In one of my recent publications Spectral Hieroglyphics I focus on a special triumverant, Aime Cesaire, Antonin Artaud, and Roger Gilbert-Lecomte. They represent the other in such an extreme and effective manner, that it calls up the hidden, and embrangles the more superficial planes with primordial invasion. In summary, to paraphase the gist of Paz, language needs spin as subversive enigma.
2) Do you feel like poetry is more or less important & relevant today?
Poetry can never be legislated by pronouncement from a cognitive lectern. It remains as the original blizzard of energy that created seas and deserts and mountain chains. It is that voice that continues to whisper beneath the superimposed scale of hyper-vocalized consumption. The latter in its on-going denouement, producing its wake consumptive psychic wreckage, composing a citizenry poisoned by fantasy, seeded by what I’ll call an electronic morality, with its spirit cast into a dark eclection suspension. In consequence, collective neurology has been compromised to such a degree that it has in many instances foregone seminal contact with itself, eroded by the abstract community of products. The insistence wrought by Bernays and the advertisers since 1923 continues to compromise the subconscious with a thorny array of choices meant to occupy one’s spirit until death. Poetry, being naturally resistant to this debacle hovers as torrential witness underlining a dossier of errors. Under this continuing circumstance spontaneously unifies a utopian thesis of human maturation and entry into galactic realization. The above being uttered during the explosive failure of Trump and its effect on his ilk that have been promulgating themselves around the globe for the past 500 years. A reckoning has suddenly appeared on the horizon with the retrospective ghosts of Lorca and Rabearivello beginning to stir anew. I am not speaking here of the revival of books and translations, but that of the aboriginal voice that poetry represents. Despite legislation and lack of financial endowment the voice burns without limit. The region of analogy continues to expand its torrent of blazes.
3) Tell us about one poet who has greatly influenced you as a writer and a thinker.
I must say that there are many. But it terms of an overall psychological impact I have go to underline the name Octavio Paz. I say this not in terms of quantative ranking, but in relation to my state upon my first my contact with him. I had initiated my course as poet. I was my initial stages of neurological adjustment to the writing of poetry, not as hobby or a curious form of entertainment, but as living destiny, as a higher form of living arrangement, so when I picked up Configurations by chance it confirmed my initial finding concerning the poetic quest. It led me not only his poetry which was blinding, but a form of conduct when contending with protracted obstacles. He, in turn led me to other poets and painters that allowed me to engage in my initial liberation. He confirmed my original insight into the quotidian and allowed me to survive assault from quotidian embranglement that tend to ensue across life. Too often poets are technically and historically proficient and many times fail in the embrace of the thereby stunting their imaginal invention. It was Paz who provided for me the poets’ ability to effectively extend across genres without the carking invocation of deficit sans theatrical gyration. My initial contact with his work included Eagle or Sun on through and beyond poems included in East Slope. Not deification, but Paz as alchemical example.
4) Tell us about one lesser-known contemporary poet who you’d like more people to know about.
The very nature of the question causes difficulty, it implies a kind of ranking. There are so many great poets, so many fertile approaches to language from That spans Adam Cornford and Heller Levinson to K. Curtis Lyle. But having worked in extended tandem with Carlos Lara (not exactly unknown or unknown to the readers of Entropy) on our book The Audiographic As Data alerted me to his muscular signature and stamina of language. The book we composed takes its cue from hunches, from implication, from the charisma of chance, from the violation of boundary. It is a dense calamitous script burning with interior amplification. Yet there is mellifluous pacing. Lara has an extremely developed aural sense. We were listening to one another at such a level of complication that my imagination and his imagination were corresponding at levels with that which seems to de-exist. A powerful oracular mechanism quantum in demeanour. Very few can hear at such an angular level and extend it into an enriched aural tapestry at velocity.
5) Share with us one of your recent poems and tell us a little bit about its context.
This is an excerpt from At The Vertigo Borders from my recent book Spectral Hieroglyphics. The poem is “At The Vertigo Borders for Roger Gilbert-Lecomte”:
…& so you remain
saturant with roaring
an environmental cadence
which sounds to the physical ear as a bell with pure Tibetan underscoring
creating trances & spells in a cathedral of droplets
an energy unconcerned with the opposable brew of conventional dialectics
As miraculous leper
as a kind of crystal
the pure mystique of absence
as unbound code across the parsecs
never humbled by reductive regional glass
or by pointless reactive effort
spinning across a gaze of static
yet you occulted yourself
being hail from sidereal Bohemias
vehement with perfectly kindled phonemes each letter blazing as percussive concurrence
leaping embraced bullion
leaping a roof of ghosts
so that language alters
what I’ll call Leonardian anatomy
taking as proof
bodily diagrams from Tibet
always taking into account
all beyond the domain of the visible body
These being the stark coronal properties of pure contagion
which continues to populate travelers like myself
who open soils along the way
knowing your provocation
concerning the expendable body
serves at the level of a nervous inapplicable body
Subject to its highest mutational inferno
Knowing de-inhabited vehicular form
combined with the essence of self-confronting
always in recovery from synthetic error
Because the void possesses laws of living annihilation
you were able to experience drafts of primal flashing
knowing experiment through funicular tumbling
honing terror like a mason of the invisible sculpting the non-traceable as amulet enlivening spontaneous blessing through articulate vulnerability
This being the density of your second or incandescent body
uttered as diagram
as the initial stage of the afterlife
which craves its own subsistence through creative immolation
Its apparition spun in half
then subsumed in unspecified origin
with all of its variety evinced through private seepage
& this seepage we have no way of charting as we would by micrometer an oceanic locust
So am I saying that I have analyzed surcease?
Or enhanced a lamp of invisible fever?
As if watching you escape a cliff of demons by means of a symmetry othered by nothingness
& this nothingness
having nothing in common with Dante’s circles
with their known chartings conveyed by the body of Virgil
hovering within the law of Christian decimation & fatigue
As if I could mirror your flight
across acres & acres of extrinsic mathematics
as if I could force a tunnel through an ozonal mirage
envisioning your apparition as a trenchant or corrosive fuel
then equating sullage as a protracted type of empire
as if the weight of history could compare wth. Interminable revelation
Perhaps I am akin to a lama testing my utterances
in a vat of bottomless echoes
searching all the ethers for a magnetic global forest
a utopia spiraling with haunted eagles
& these ethers possessing the combinatory touch
of old Tibetan physicians
by one touch
gathering the bearings of death
or the chirality of health
as if the body wavers between these two indefinites
thriving on liminal portions
somehow above the constitutions
of bile & phlegm & wind
the 3 markers of the human species
with you Lecomte
being of utter wind
residing in a Bardo summit of unsummoned schist…
This fragment as mentioned above is from the poem “At The Vertigo Borders for Roger Gilbert-Lecomte.” The book from which it’s taken Spectral Hieroglyphics is concerned with revolutionary powers of language that I explore in this troika through the worlds of Artaud, Lecomte, and Cesaire. Language being the key to alchemic inner radiance, capable of provoking a mantra of health in the cells. Concerned with the poet who extols radical liberty not only socially and politically, but invoking language that spontaneously melds with the inscrutable energy that perpetually flows from the cosmos.
Will Alexander – Poet, novelist, playwright, aphorist, essayist, philosopher, visual artist, and pianist, he has 30 collections in the above mentioned genres. Both a Whiting Fellow and a California Arts Council Fellow, he has been recipient of an Oakland PEN Award, an American Book Award, and winner of the 2016 Jackson Prize for Poetry.