Close Listening with Will Alexander

Photo: Harold Abramowitz

Will Alexander talks with me about his early immersion in the work of John Coltrane and its abiding connection to his own jazz-process / Surrealist poetry, discusses his “constellation" of mythological and scientific sources, the influence of Aimé Césaire on his work, the politics of his poetic form via resistance to colonization, the role of the black poet in America, the necessity of performance, and his aim bring the reader into a state of “supra-mind.”

Listen to the 30-minute program, prodcued for Clocktower Radio in association with PennSound:


Foreword to 'Cat Painters: An Anthology of Contemporary Serbian Poetry'

Edited by Biljana D. Obradović and Dubravka Djurić

We come old into a world newly born.

Poets I mean.

Conditions change so fast on the ground and yet we are walking receivers of traditions that defy objective temporal markers. Poems mark an intersection of the new, the news, and something outside that pressure of reality, something that resists such presence. The more resistant they are to the present, the more a perfect voicelessness emerges. 

I wrote the Foreword to this anthology, just published by Diálogos Books of Lavender Ink
ISBN: 978-1-935084-08-6  // 7"x10", 560 pages: $29.95
We come old into a world newly born.

            Poets I mean.

Re-verb/re-noun: Verse in vivo and the living word

Many scriptural traditions promise a “living word” or some variation on a “word made flesh,” and new developments in genetic art also engage in an organismic language. DNA’s four-letter alphabet of ATCG is a tetragram like the names of gods ranging from Zeus to Jove to Deus to Gott to Odin to Lord, but one that rearranges at will like a protein’s palimpsest, forever half-erasing and rewriting itself. Bio-poetics can now forge new DNA molecules able to pass a cell’s reading test, in acts of virtuosic 5,000-bit spelling, placing codes inside of codes and (in the case of the very first synthetic organism) scratching Richard Feynman’s “What I cannot create, I do not understand” as a piece of defiant graffiti inside of a cell.

David Antin (February 1, 1932 - October 11, 2016)

Nov. 15, 2013, photo by Charles Bernstein

A great inspiration, radical model, dearest friend, and ever an iconoclast.  

David Antin was one of the great American poets of the postwar period, transforming both the practice of poetry and the essay. His ‘talk poems’ are chock full of startlingly philosophical insight, compelling autobiographical turns, and bursts of comic genius. His work is the record of a person thinking out loud, weaving narratives on the fly, and making poems that are as engaging as they are wise.

Antin's work can be read at his EPC page and seen and heard at PennSound.

Boland and Cinti's flask menagerie: Hair-growing cacti, Martian roses, and living mirrors

A succulent growing human hair in Howard Boland and Laura Cinti’s Cactus Project is an inquiry into primate/plant interrelations, indirectly following up on (by inverting) Whitman’s vision of a poet’s body as an overgrown swamp or canebrake. Bio-art can now perform horizontal gene transfers across species lines, and so Thoreau’s desire to be “the corn and the grass and the atmosphere writing” can also be partially realized in experiments that test the boundaries between humans and their often unruly crops.